Part two in our four part series – The Case for Compassion Togo
The children of Togo are especially affected by the economic and social issues of the country. The infant mortality rate is nearly 60 deaths per 1,000 live births and the under-five mortality rate is approximately 140 deaths out of 1,000 births. For those who survive those first years of life, there are still numerous difficulties to face.
Major problem areas include:
- Education — In addition to the overcrowding and lack of funding for teachers, there are numerous issues that negatively impact the education situation in Togo. According to a UNICEF survey, 5 percent of boys and 2.2 percent of girls who attend primary school will continue on to secondary school. A lack of motivation and financial problems are blamed for this, along with the extreme distance sometimes involved (with some children walking three to four miles one way). Girls are especially affected, with 52 percent of girls in northern Togo having no access to school, largely because they are expected to care for the homes and their younger siblings.
- Child Trafficking and Labor — The high rate of poverty in Togo has led to children being traded by their parents for small amounts of money or products such as radios, bicycles or clothing. Parents are promised better living conditions for their children but in reality most live as domestic workers or even prostitutes. Children forced to work as domestic, factory and agricultural laborers often receive no wage at all and those who do might earn between four and ten dollars per month. Those who decide to run away usually end up on the streets, which often leads to prostitution for girls and theft or drug addiction for boys.
- Health — Diseases and health problems such as malaria, typhoid, diarrhea and malnutrition have an especially devastating effect on children. There is little access to hospitals or clinics, especially in rural areas. It is estimated that half of Togo’s population may not have access to potable water. It is also believed that more than 60,000 children in Togo have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
TOMORROW: The State of the Church
Photo and story by Phoebe Rogers