Moldova is a small Eastern European country, slightly larger than Belgium. Bordering the European Union, Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine.
The county gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It is home to some 3.5 million people; over 20% are under 18 years. An additional half million people, including over 100,000 children, live in the breakaway region of Transnistria. The country sees itself as part of Europe; though the country still has far to go to create the living conditions and opportunities for its children that are norm in the region.
The population of Moldova is largely rural; 65% of all children live in villages, where services are fewer and poverty much more common than in the cities Family and national income remains low: in per person terms, about the same as Bolivia. Employment is scarce and greater opportunities elsewhere beckon: Moldova has one of the highest rates of migration in the world, and children often remain at home with relatives.
General statistics about Moldova paint a somewhat encouraging picture, with a modestly growing economy and poverty in slow but steady decline. These benefits though do not reach all, and children are often last in line. Overall, about one quarter of Moldovans live in poverty; but this rate rises quickly for children in rural areas, from large families, or living in single parent households. Half of Moldovan children are raised on less than 2.5 dollars per day.
Daily features of a child’s life are an interesting mix of old and new: cell phones are common everywhere, and one in three in people use the internet. Meanwhile, only five percent of rural families with children have inside toilets, and even running water is a rarity, enjoyed by less than one in four such families.
Differences between village and city life are especially apparent in the winter, when unpaved roads turn to mud or ice, and poor indoor heating as well outdoor sanitary facilities create additional hardship.
Despite these challenges, Moldova is committed to change. UNICEF works hand in hand with Government, communities, civil society and, of course, children to help create a brighter future. Our work focuses on: