For Nigeria to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it must address issues of child’s rights in the country, says the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF communication specialist, Geoffrey Njoku, while speaking at a two-day media dialogue in Enugu State on Friday, said all SDGs are linked with children’s rights and that these rights must be integrated and implemented.
Mr Njoku said children are often denied their rights to education, good health, nutrition, and safety because of their sensitivity and stages of development.
“Without focusing on child rights while implementing the SDGs, then Nigeria will not achieve the United Nations 2030 target,” he said.
He said the government must ensure they leave behind no child in implementing plans, programmes, strategies, and policies toward the SDGs.
UNICEF organised the dialogue in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
The UN adopted the SDGs in 2015 to serve as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
They address the global challenges facing the world, including poverty, inequality, climate change, hunger, AIDS and discrimination against women and girls, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.
The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognise that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
Integrating child’s rights
In his presentation, Chidi Ezinwa, a professor in the department of mass communication, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, said SDGs cannot be achieved until the rights of children are fulfilled.
Mr Ezinwa said the government must take action that will not endanger the future, health, and education of children in the country.
“No one must be left behind, including children. The child is a right holder,” he said.
He said Nigeria domesticated the Child Rights in 1993 but has still not gotten it right in observing and giving full attention to the rights of a child.
He said some children are turned into adults overnight when they are forced to leave school, do hazardous work, get married, or be locked up in adult prisons.
“Understanding that a sustainable future depends on how we meet the needs of children and young people today is important. The quality of our children now determines the future of Nigeria,” he said.
UNICEF Nutrition Officer, Nkeiru Enwelum, noted that Nigeria is off track in achieving SDG 2. Goal 2 seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030.
Ms Enwelum said Nigeria is number one in Africa and number two in the world in terms of malnourished children.
She said of the 35 million children under the ages of five, 14 million are stunted, three million are wasted, and 24 million are anaemic.
She noted that 40 per cent of child deaths in the country is because of poor nutrition. She also said 14.5 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity.
Ms Enwelum explained that Nigeria must end the plague of malnutrition to achieve goal 2 by 2030.
She said the convention on the right of a child stipulates that children have the right to food and the SDGs recognise the importance of nutrition as critical to the economic development and wellbeing of countries.
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