As part of efforts to end multidimensional poverty among children and violations of their rights, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The partnership represents a critical step towards a future where children’s rights are respected, and they receive the support needed to become productive citizens.
At the launch of the partnership in Abuja on Friday, UNICEF’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, said multidimensional poverty in children is more prevalent in rural communities than urban areas.
Ms Munduate said if action is not implemented as a matter of urgency, poverty will persist for generations, creating an intergenerational cycle of poverty.
“Parents, families, and communities must take care of children and the state must provide the environment for them to thrive.
“Five of every 10 children still face multidimensional poverty – lack of water, education, and nutrition, among others. As long as they are missing any of these, they are poor,” she said.
Speaking at the event, NESG chairman, Niyi Yusuf, said children remain a vital part of the mandate and urgent action is required to ensure that they do the right thing to promote their development.
Mr Yusuf noted that the MoU is intended to help Nigeria achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in areas of education, health, and other child rights concerns.
He said: “From Nigeria and NESG perspectives, our view is that children actually represent the greatest assets to this country.
“We keep saying that our children are the leaders of tomorrow and so it’s important that we invest and plant the seeds to ensure that these children truly become the leaders of tomorrow.”
He noted that in the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) released in 2022, two-thirds of Nigerian children were multidimensionally poor, noting that they lacked access to health, education, and income.
The NESG chairman noted that more than 50 per cent of the children from poor families have poor early childhood development.
“This means over half of the poor children lack the intellectual stimulation necessary for early childhood development,” he said.
“So, if a child suffers any negative growth in early childhood, you are laying a not-so-good foundation for tomorrow.”
Mr Yusuf said the partnership with UNICEF is both timely and significant because “the agency is a leading provider of humanitarian and developmental aid for children worldwide.”
On her part, the UNICEF country representative said the partnership is in line with the organisation’s commitment to protecting children’s rights.
She said UNICEF is dedicated to protecting children’s rights globally and helping them build a strong foundation for their future.
“Our partnership with NESG highlights the urgency of realising this goal and will coordinate efforts to achieve child rights protection in Nigeria through effective public policies,” she said.
She said a great investment in children is investing in human capital. According to Ms Munduate, the right nutrition and care, especially during the first 1,000 days of life, can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty.
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“It can break the cycle of poverty for families, communities, and countries, and shape a society’s long-term stability and prosperity,” she said.
The UNICEF representative noted that the partnership will focus on aligning the nation’s poverty reduction strategy with the child and national multidimensional poverty index.
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