The SADC region is facing an unprecedented increase in the number of children and youth who are deprived of basic services which they need to survive and grow up well, in particular, food, education and life skills, health care, clean water and sanitation, protection from situations of abuse, denial of their basic liberties, and from extreme poverty. Deprivation and vulnerability of children and youth in the region is largely caused by HIV and AIDS which have been recorded to be more prevalent in SADC than in any other region globally, high levels of poverty (which has been exacerbated by the global financial and economic crisis), and in some cases conflict and natural disasters. The majority of the youth are unemployed. Compounded by all these challenges and in the absence of safety nets, employment and other livelihood earning opportunities, the majority of the affected children and youth have strained their capacity to respond to the psychological, social, emotional and spiritual needs. As a result, they are engaging or more likely to engage in socially deviant and risky behaviours such as criminal activities, transactional sex, conflict and violence, early marriage, alcohol and substance abuse, as well as depression and suicide.
If these challenges continue and are not addressed comprehensively, they pose a serious threat to socio-economic development, peace and security of the region. As a result, SADC has developed a conceptual framework for psychosocial support. The framework provides common understanding of psychosocial challenges facing children and young people, and the interventions that are required to ensure psychosocial wellbeing