The SADC region is facing an unprecedented increase in the number of children and youth who are deprived of basic services that they need to survive and grow up well. There are many who are either not at all enrolled in school or who drop out before completing primary schooling. The region continues to be home to the majority of global children who cannot survive to celebrate their 5th birthday. Food insecurity also remains a major challenge. The majority of youth who live in very poor families and households are not skilled and cannot find employment, and thus can no longer cope. There are still many cases where laws and cultural beliefs do not protect and safe guard orphans to inherit the wealth of their parents and guardians when they die. Cases of child abuse and child labour are high including trafficking for commercial exploitation. Deprivation and vulnerability of children and youth in the region is largely caused by high levels of HIV and AIDS, poverty (which has been exacerbated by the global financial and economic crisis) and in some cases conflict and natural disasters.
The vulnerabilities of children and youth pose a serious threat to regional socioeconomic integration and development, peace and security. To mitigate these challenges, SADC has taken the position that it is more appropriate to define basic needs and services for vulnerable children and vulnerable youth, and to provide these services in a comprehensive and holistic manner across the region [Taken from Foreword].