localisation : Mauritius


Background and news:

The Republic of Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean, off the south-east coast of Africa. With a surface area of 2,040km², Mauritius is an island state situated 868 kilometres east of Madagascar and 172 kilometres from Réunion. Its capital is Port-Louis and the country has a population of 1.3 million.

Mauritius is ranked 64th out of 191 countries on the Human Development Index. Experts have described it as an African social and economic success story. Democratic elections are held regularly and human rights are generally respected and protected. The country’s economy has diversified, and textile production and tourism are major sources of employment. Nevertheless, poverty remains a reality for many people in Mauritius, particularly in rural areas. The country was heavily impacted by Covid-19 and became an upper-middle income country in 2021, whereas in July 2020 it became a high-income country.

Mauritius’ economic growth in recent years has not benefited everyone equally, and many people still live in poverty, particularly in rural areas of the country. Food production on the small island can be difficult due to unfavourable climatic conditions and a lack of land. As a result, around 75% of food has to be imported. However, as world prices for staple foods tend to fluctuate, many cannot afford to feed their families. This puts children at particular risk as it can limit their physical and intellectual growth.

Although poverty has fallen slightly, 8% of the population still lives in poverty, as the better-off have benefited more from economic development than the poorest. Income inequality has increased due to a reduced demand for unskilled labour. This situation now threatens the livelihoods of poor families, particularly in rural Mauritius. The children of these families are severely disadvantaged.

Situation of children:

Mauritius has made a great deal of progress in protecting children. The country’s infant mortality rate has fallen, and universal access to drinking water, healthcare and education has been ensured. However, economic growth has not been equal across the country and many children are struggling to escape poverty. Furthermore, although the Mauritian government has taken steps to combat child labour, the commercial exploitation of minors has not completely disappeared.

Despite the Mauritian government’s concrete efforts to combat child labour, 2% of children are still forced to work. This figure may seem fairly low, but children continue to be involved in agricultural activities, street vending and domestic service. Many of these children work in hazardous environments where they have to operate dangerous machinery. Others, particularly young girls, are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

SOS Children’s Villages in Mauritius:

SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people deprived of parental care or at risk of losing it in Mauritius since 1992 through 2 Children’s Villages in Beau Bassin and Bambous. Over 1,000 adults and children have benefited from family strengthening programmes, 20 young people have been helped on the road to independence through employability and reintegration programmes, advocacy activities have been organised, enabling children to get involved in the community, and almost 570 children have been helped through programmes to prevent abandonment and neglect.

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