General information on the Gambia

In The Gambia, SOS Children's Villages started its activities in the 1980s. Because of the impoverishment of many Gambian families, a growing number of children end up without parental care, fending for themselves. Frequently occurring natural disasters worsen the living situation of the poorest population segments in this small African country.
tkr tkr
SOS Training Centre - photo: Christian Lesske
SOS Training Centre - photo: Christian Lesske
The Republic of The Gambia has a total population of 1.7 million, of which approximately 440,000 live in the capital city of Banjul. Until 1965, The Gambia was a British Crown Colony called “British Gambia” and Gambian troops even fought with the Allies during World War II in Asia.

Since gaining independence in 1965, The Gambia has been marked by relative political stability, despite a bloodless military coup in 1994 in which the elected government was toppled. After the coup, a new constitution was introduced and presidential elections were held in 1996, securing the country's return to civilian rule.

The Gambia is characterized by an impressive ethnic diversity. In addition to the official language English, the tribal languages Mandinka, Wolof and Fula are widely spoken. Islam is the predominant religion. The Gambia relies on subsistence farming, as natural resources in this fairly little country are scarce. The main export commodity is peanuts.

SOS Kindergarten - photo: L. Willot
SOS Kindergarten - photo: L. Willot

Tens of thousands of young girls in Gambia continue to be victims of female genital mutilation which is still commonly practiced in this country. It is evident that these cruel methods lead to substantial physical and psychological health risks for the girls. These risks may include infertility, urinary incontinence, all sorts of infections and severe complications at childbirth.

Against the background of poor education systems in the region, some students at the SOS Vocational Training Centres also come from Liberia and Sierra Leone to receive their technical training courses.

Since the economic situation in Gambia has been rather turbulent, SOS Children's Villages also supported the population in surrounding neighbourhoods during emergency situations, for example by building houses for impoverished families.