July 13, 2012

Niger’s hunger crisis could lead to more child marriages

The Washington Post published a chilling story on July 9 about how the famine in West Africa could lead to even more child marriages in Niger, which already has the world's highest rate of child marriage.

According to the article, in Niger: 

"Roughly one out of two girls marry before age 15, some as young as 7. As a hunger crisis affects millions here and across the Sahel region of West Africa, aid workers are concerned that struggling parents might marry off their daughters even earlier for the dowries they fetch, including animals and cash, to help the families survive.

'The fear is, if the food crisis continues, that more parents will use marriage as a survival strategy and that we’ll see more girls married before the age of 15,' said Djanabou Mahonde, the head of child protection at UNICEF."

Additionally, marrying at a young age means girls become mothers sooner, which brings its own set of health issues. The Post article notes that Niger has high rates of obstetric fistula, a medical complication that often affects girls and "usually develops when an unborn baby gets stuck in the pelvis, cutting off blood circulation and leading to rotting of tissue."

One of the root causes of the famine is the lack of clean water, and Wells Bring Hope is doing its part to alleviate the problem. Remember, when a water well is drilled, it results in girls getting an education, which in turn leads to delayed marriage and child birth -- and better overall health outcomes.


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