Fred Ezeh, Abuja
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), said on Thursday, that the economic impact of the violence against children in Nigeria is estimated at $6.1 billion, which is equivalent to about 1.07 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The huge financial loss was from the cumulative loss of earnings due to loss of productivity, stemming from suffering associated with different degrees of violence over time.
This was contained in the outcome of a survey that was jointly by UNICEF and the Federal Government, through the Ministries of Budget and National Planning, Women Affairs and Social Development.
Financial support for the project was said to have come from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through USAID, the EU and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The report further revealed that about half of the Nigerian children surveyed experienced physical violence by parents, adult relatives, direct or indirect caregivers or community members before they reached 18 years.
It noted that the study may actually underestimate the economic burden of violence against children, as several serious consequences of such violence were not included in the report due to the current lack of data.
UNICEF, in a statement released in Abuja, noted that the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Ifeoma Anagbogu, who spoke about the report, stressed the need to eliminate or minimise violence against children both from a moral and economic perspective.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Olajide Odewale, observed that the outcome of the survey suggests an urgent need for increased funding of interventions by government to reduce or end violence against children in Nigeria.
However, UNICEF noted that evidence presented in the report indicates an urgent need to improve on child protection services and prioritise the elimination of violence against children to ensure that Nigeria’s human capital is equipped with mental, physical, and emotional stability needed to boost its social and economic development.
Meanwhile, the UNICEF country representative, Mohammed Fall, said the fund has spent the last three decades fighting for the right and well-being of children globally.
He said the fund has also used the various platforms and interventions to protect children from violence, abuse, and neglect, and also recommit to increased investment in child protection services.