South Africa

In South Africa we currently support some 16,400 children and young people in 19 projects. Since 1979, we have been working here with established partners. Our projects are primarily in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and in the Eastern Cape.

South Africa

A country in transition

South Africa has the largest economy in Africa. While enormous progress has been made in many areas after the end of apartheid in 1991, the black majority has not benefited from progress made. Daily life in the country is marred by violence, poverty, unemployment, a lack of educational opportunities, an extremely low life expectancy and, above all, the HIV/AIDS epidemic. With 2.1 million AIDS orphans, South Africa has the most cases of HIV infections worldwide.

We promote HIV/AIDS information and prevention programmes to prevent new infections, particularly among young people. Additional projects aim to curb violence against children. An important objective is combating poverty in rural regions. Our self-help group programme has proven highly effective in this environment.

The challenges

A grandma sits with her grandson, who is a AIDS orphan, on a bed in a humble hut. (Source: Ralf Krämer)
Most black South Africans still live in poverty.

South Africa has the largest economy on the continent. It has an outstanding infrastructure in urban areas, a world-class financial sector, large reserves of natural resources, and a highly developed legal system. Since the end of the apartheid regime, over one million homes have been built for vulnerable populations. Today, more people than ever have access to clean water.

But a large proportion of the majority black population still lives in poverty and has no access to some public services. Schools attended by black South-African youth tend to be less well equipped. Teachers are poorly trained and many children do not complete primary school, which virtually guarantees them a life of poverty. One out of four South African children between the ages of 5 and 14 has to work. Working children are predominantly from back communities.

With 5.6 million cases, South Africa holds the sad world record for the most HIV infections. 2.1 million children are AIDS orphans.

  • Our work in the country

    One focus of our work in South Africa is to reduce HIV infections among young people. Our programmes aim to educate young people about the spread of HIV and how behaviour change can prevent infections. Our programmes hope to put an end to discrimination against girls and boys experience because of their gender, HIV/AIDS, disabilities, or because they have become orphans.

    We help children in dire circumstances, including AIDS orphans, street children, and children with special needs. They deserve to be respected as unique and viable individuals and as important members of society.

    We also strive to give disadvantaged preschool and schoolchildren – both with and without disabilities – access to good education. We hope this ensures that girls and boys who fall through the cracks of the government network of social services get a good start in life.

  • Key figures on South Africa

    • 48.4 million people live in South Africa
    • The population is annually declining by 0.05 % (negative growth due to HIV/AIDS)
    • The average life expectancy in South Africa is 50 years (second lowest life expectancy in the world)
    • 6.3 million people live with HIV/AIDS (second highest rate worldwide)
    • 19 % of people between the ages of 15 and 49 become infected with HIV every year (4th place worldwide)
    • 4 million children are orphans, 2.5 million of them because of AIDS*

    Sources: World Factbook, *United Nations

South Africa: Help for street girls

South Africa: Help for street girls

The port city Durban is a magnet for many children and adolescents from broken families. Hoping to find a better life, youths are confronted with the harsh realities of street life. We support a street children project that mainly works with girls.

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How we work

How we work

Learn more about how we realize children’s rights.

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An overview of our projects and countries

An overview of our projects and countries

We are currently supporting almost 1.9 million children in 33 countries. Click here to read selected project descriptions.

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