Group worries over effect on children, girls

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Child and girls’ rights organisation, Plan International Nigeria, has decried the high and rising level of poverty in the country, leaving a negative lasting impact on children and girls.

The Non-Governmental Organisation cited the recent Multidimensional Poverty Index, MPI, report issued by the National Bureau of Statistics which put the number of Nigerians living in poverty at 133 million out of a population of over 200 million.

Expressing worries about what he termed “distractive and unnecessary debate between the federal government and some of the state governors.”

The Country Director of Plan International Nigeria, Charles Usie, said that “the state of poverty as shown by the MPI is alarming and requires serious attention by the government at all levels.”

The report painted a grim picture of not only poverty but its impact on children, their health, education and nutrition.

Majority of the poor in Nigeria, it showed are children, as 67.5% of children under the age of 18 are poor and 70.1% of children under 5 are poor.

Usie expressed worries that children’s education was one of the most impacted by poverty with 57.8 million children of school-going age (6 to 15 years old) and 29% of all school-aged children not attending school.

The report indicated that 94% of all of these out-of-school children are poor, as Usie noticed “their situation of being out of school is tightly linked to multidimensional poverty.”

That, he said, was worrisome and not acceptable.

“What this translates to, is that 27% of all school-aged children are both poor and out of school,” he said.

Usie said that the listing of such variables such as food security, nutrition, child deprivation, school lag, water reliability, underemployment and security shocks provides like never before a clearer picture of the incidence and intensity of poverty in the country and makes available data that shows the dimensions of poverty at all relevant sectors and levels.

He however expressed worry that the government at the federal and state levels since the release of the report had not come out with an appropriate response to the issues contained in the report.

“What has been in the news from both the federal government and the states are recriminations on whom to hold responsible for the state of multidimensional poverty in the country. Rather than the distractive squabbles over who to blame, both federal and state governments should devote time and energy to addressing matters arising from the report and give assurance to Nigerians that there are some serious and well thought out responses to the issues,” Usie said.

He said further that “the country was rich enough in human capital and natural resources to walk back the suffering of the people especially children and girls through prudent and efficient management of the resources.”

The country director also called for clear disaggregation of the sex or gender of the survey respondents in subsequent reports to give a deeper meaning and understanding of the dimension of poverty to enable adequately tailored intervention by relevant stakeholders.

He called for particular intervention to be focused on rural communities where much of the reported poverty resides.

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