Children under the age of 18 represent around 35% of the total population. The changing economic situation of the country has affected the lives of children:
- families have broken down,
- investment in education and support services has fallen,
- and the social institutions which look after the rights of children have undergone change and reform.
An estimated 4% of children under the age of 14 are involved in forced labor. Most come from low-income families and work in a variety of settings which include manual labor and heavy industry.
Children are taken into care for a number of reasons which include: extreme poverty of the families of origin, unemployment, migration of parents in search of work, breakdown of the family, family illness, domestic violence, substance abuse or the death of the parents. Most of these children are placed in under-funded care facilities. There are reports from international agencies suggesting physical violence occurs in these centers. Children who leave institutional care are not well equipped for independent living; they often end up unemployed or working in the informal economy.
Families with children who have special needs and disabilities are often not provided with support; and the children are usually taken away from the family home and placed in institutional facilities.