Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A new report has revealed that Nigeria has an estimated 465,000 child brides between the ages of 15 and 19 years.
The report carried out by Save the Children’s Global Childhood included the annual End of Childhood Index, which revealed that circumstances for children in the majority of countries across West and Central Africa have improved since 2000.
The report which was launched ahead of the International Children’s Day on June 1, showed that even though marriage rates have dropped, the absolute number of child brides has risen by more than 100,000 in eight countries.
It stated: “Progress in many African countries has been too slow to keep up with population growth. As a result, even though marriage rates have dropped, the absolute number of child brides has risen by more than 100,000 in eight countries.
“In Nigeria, an estimated 465,000 more girls aged 15 to 19 are married or living in union now compared to 2000. The other countries with over 100,000 more child brides today compared to 2000 are Chad, Madagascar, Mali and Mozambique.”
The report also showed that the world has made remarkable progress in protecting childhoods, thanks to strong political leadership, social investments, and the success of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
It noted that despite the progress recorded globally, Nigeria is ranked in the bottom 10 of the index rankings.
The report disclosed that the country is ranked 170 out of 176, doing slightly better than countries like Somalia, South Sudan, Mali, Chad, Niger and Central African Republic in number 176.
“In the year 2000, an estimated 970 million children were robbed of their childhoods due to ‘childhood enders’ – life-changing events like child marriage, early pregnancy, exclusion from education, sickness, malnutrition and violent deaths. That number today has been reduced to 690 million – meaning that at least 280 million children are better off today than they would have been two decades ago.
“Together, China and India account for more than half of the global decline in stunting alone.
“West and Central Africa cuts under five child deaths by nearly half in a generation, but children living in or fleeing conflict zones across the region remain among the most disadvantaged
“The likelihood of a child dying before their 5th birthday in West and Central Africa has been reduced by 47 per cent since the year 2000, a new report by Save the Children has found.”