Reforming the country to protect families

Children in our care are able to grow up in a safe environment – playing and going to school with their friends (photo: SOS archives).

Buchanan is Liberia's third largest city and is located in the Grand Bassa County. About 270,000 people live in the county, with 34,000 living in Buchanan itself.

Before the civil unrest of the past decades, the Port of Buchanan was one of the most important in Liberia. Current plans to develop the area will once again make it a key trade centre.

However, the port is not the only infrastructure that needs rebuilding: families need access to clean water and sanitation facilities. This would prevent thousands of deaths from preventable diseases. Likewise, medical services and schools also need investment.

Agricultural production methods also need to be modernised so that food shortages and malnutrition can be reduced. Most people in the region live off agriculture. They grow cassava, rice and plantain to feed their families. Only 36% of households produce goods to sell at markets.

Poverty marks the lives of children and young people

Today, there is a great need to support the communities of Grand Bassa County, and children are as vulnerable as ever. The region is among the poorest in Liberia – in Grand Bassa, 61 per cent of the population live in poverty and 22 per cent in extreme poverty, which means that they have to live on less than $1.90 a day.

The majority of these poor households are headed by men or women with no formal education. This shows the importance of education. Currently, only 51 per cent of the population can read and write. The government is working towards building schools and training teachers.

Despite recent progress, gender continues to play a decisive role in determining access to resources and services. Girls are more likely to be poor and drop out of school than boys. Liberia also has some of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in the world.

What we do in Buchanan

Brothers and sisters grow up together in SOS Children's Village Buchanan (photo: SOS archives). 

Support for families: The family strengthening programme provides support to families so that they can stay together. Working with local authorities, we ensure that children are given educational and health support. We advise on parenting skills and income generation. Furthermore, we strengthen communities so that vulnerable members have someone to turn to in times of need. 

Care for children in SOS families: For children in Grand Bassa County who are no longer able to live with their parents, SOS families can provide a loving home. In each family, the children live with their brothers and sisters, and cared for by their SOS parent.

The families live in homes in the local community, and this gives them the chance to develop close relationship with their neighbours and community. These relationships will help support them as they grow.

While children are in our care, and wherever possible, we make sure they are in regular contact with their family of origin. When a child can go back to live with their family, we continue to support them. 

Support young people: Young people often struggle to find work and become independent in Buchanan. We help young people complete their education or training, take on new responsibilities and prepare to live on their own.