An estimated loss of economic value of N1.42 trillion is incurred annually due to the consequences of violence against children (VAC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said.
Public Finance for Child Protection UNICEF Consultant, Rita Fele, disclosed this during a presentation at the launch of the Economic Burden of VAC in Nigeria and the Financial Benchmark for Child Protection Reports, organized in collaboration with the Cross River State Ministry of Women Affairs and funded by the Centre for Disease Control/United States Agency for International Development (CDC/USAID) in Calabar.
She said on average the deaths and disability resulting from violence against children costs the country the above figure, which represents 1.6 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Revealing key findings of the study, she said the Nigeria Consolidated National Benchmark was estimated at 0.31%, meaning that for every N100 spent per person in Nigeria, 31 Kobo, or N0.31, was spent per child on child protection services.
“The total consolidated child protection expenditure was calculated as NGN 10.1 billion which is 0.16% of consolidated Federal and State expenditure minus debt service costs. NGN 109.26 per child was spent on CP services on average in these years,” she said.
She said based on the current levels of consolidated child protection expenditure in Nigeria, the reallocation of just 0.1 per cent of Nigeria’s budget towards children protection would increase total consolidated expenditure by 63 per cent.
The UNICEF consultant described VAC as a key social and economic concern for Nigeria’s future, recommending there should be set priorities on prevention and responsive child protection services in development plans.
She also recommended the inclusion of evidence-based study results to advocate for more coordinated efforts on strengthening child protection systems across all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
She said the results call for an increase in governmental interventions with adequate public expenditure and budget allocation.
Chief of Enugu Field Office, UNICEF, Dr Ibrahim Conteh, said the meeting was to ensure that there is a leverage of resources from government to ensure that we do more for children.
He said UNICEF was committed to support government in making sure that children realize their rights.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that a child who has been born has is provided with all the required facilities to be a meaningful child in the world. If that child does now have those facilities, if they couldn’t make it to be be good children, we are accountable for that, as parents but also government. This why UNICEF comes in. we define our mandate to ensure we continue to knock on the doors of government to ensure that they do more for children to realize their right,” Conteh said.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women Affairs, Mr James Odok, said the objectives of the launch was to create awareness on the need to increase allocation and expenditures for Child Protection Services
Odok, a lawyer, said it was also to disseminate information on the need to spend more on Child Protection Services and to provide information on analysis on the level of public expenditure and cost of inaction for child protection services in Nigeria.