Kara, Togo

togo-school-kara-a.jpgKara is a small but rapidly developing city in a remote area of northern Togo. The city began as a small village, before growing into what today is an administrative and industrial centre. Each year the traditional “Evala” wrestling tournament takes place, an initiation rite for young men.

In Togo the proportion of people living below the income poverty line is extremely high at approximately 75%. In the Kara region subsistence agriculture and the production of coffee, cocoa and cotton for export are the main sources of income but climate change is making it increasingly difficult to grow crops.

The effects of climate change on farmers’ livelihoods

Farmers’ livelihoods are endangered by a diverse range of challenges including drought and the deterioration of environments. Over the last 50 years there has been a dramatic decrease in annual precipitation in the region while the average maximum temperature has slowly increased making it difficult for farmers to get a reliable income from crops.

The Kara River flows south of the city and is its main resource for water but the river is being used for washing clothes and dishes or for bathing and swimming. This results in the provision of unclean and unsafe water for the city. Infants and young children are especially susceptible to catching diseases from dirty water.

Families and children are in need of better healthcare and education

There are three main slum settlements within the boundaries of the city: Nanto, Yanivv and Faure. Despite some strategies adopted to ensure better access to clean water, education and health, overall, the city does not have a comprehensive policy for the slum residents and the situation remains bleak.

Mothers and children at the SOS medical centre in KaraAvailability of basic services in the area is limited and infrastructure is under developed. Many families struggle to access healthcare and send their children to school. There is a high incidence of HIV/AIDS often leaving children without the care of their parents. Polio affects a number of children who as a result of being disabled can be discriminated against or abandoned by their families.

Our work in Kara

SOS Children has been working in Togo since the 1970s, and we opened our Children's Village in Kara in 1979. Since then, children who have lost parental care have been able to find a loving home as part of an SOS families. In the same year we opened a primary school, where we provide education to around 420 children. Since 1981, we have run a nursery with places for 50 children.

Our SOS medical centre, which is visited by over 30, 000 patients a year, opened in 1982 and expanded in March 1992. As well as a clinic and pharmacy, the facility also has a nutrition centre and a maternity ward.

In 1985, we opened a vocational training centre which offers training to young people, as well as protected jobs for SOS young people with special needs. Young people who are ready to leave their SOS families move up to our youth programme, where we guide them into independent life.

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