NIGERIA is among the top 10 worst conflict-affected countries to be a child and it is currently ranked behind Somalia, South Sudan, Mali, Chad, Niger and Central African Republic in cutting under-5 child deaths, a new report by Save the Children has shown.
Save the Children in the report released on Tuesday titled 2019 Global Childhood Report evaluated 176 countries on children’s access to health care, education, nutrition and protection from harmful practices like child labor and child marriage.
The report said Nigeria is ranked in the bottom 10 of the index rankings.
“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.”
Other worst conflict-affected countries to be a child are Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“Large numbers of children in these countries are living close to high-intensity conflicts marked by grave violations of children’s rights (killing and maiming, recruitment, sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access).”
However, the report showed that West and Central Africa have cut under-5 child deaths by nearly half in a generation.
It said the likelihood of a child dying before their 5th birthday in West and Central Africa has been reduced by 47 percent since the year 2000.
The report pointed out that children living in or fleeing conflict zones across the region remain among the most disadvantaged
It found out that children born currently in West and Central Africa have a better chance than at any time in history of surviving and thriving. Just a generation ago, a child born in the region was nearly 90 percent more likely to die before reaching the age of 5 and more than 20 percent more likely to be married, malnourished or out of school.
While noting that the world has made remarkable progress in protecting childhoods, it attributed the feat to strong political leadership, social investments, and the success of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In the year 2000, it said 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,” the report indicated.
“Together, China and India account for more than half of the global decline in stunting alone.”
It added that 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.
Globally, if current trends continue, there will be more than 70 million babies born to teenage girls between now and 2030. In addition, Nigeria is expected to overtake India as the country with the largest burden of adolescent births.
Eric Hazard, Save the Children’s Campaign and Advocacy Director for West and Central Africa, said:
“A hundred years ago, following one of the most destructive wars in human history, Save the Children’s founder Eglantyne Jebb drafted the Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Today children are healthier, wealthier and better educated than ever before.
While progress has been remarkable, millions of children continue to be robbed of a childhood. We now need to continue to push to reach every last child and ensure they receive the childhood they deserve.
Governments can and must do more to give every child the best possible start in life. Greater investment and more focus is needed if we are to see every child can enjoy a safe, healthy and happy
Launched ahead of International Children’s Day on June 1st, Save the Children’s Global Childhood Report includes the annual End of Childhood Index, which finds that circumstances for children in the majority of countries across West and Central Africa have improved since 2000.