Nigeria is currently facing a child vulnerability crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions.
The category of children referred to as vulnerable are defined as “Children who are unlikely to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of social services.
They include those whose health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired; who have physical or mental impairment, who are in the care of a public authority, or, provided with accommodation by a public authority in order to secure their well-being”
Addressing the challenges faced by this group of children and mitigating negative outcomes of this growing population is a high priority for national governments and international stakeholders across the globe who recognise this as an issue with social, economic, and human rights dimensions.
Although great strides have certainly been made to deal with this challenge, anecdotal evidence shows that the current scale of services is far from reaching a significant number of the over 17.5 million vulnerable children in Nigeria according to the 2008 situation assessment and analysis on orphan and vulnerable children conducted by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and
Social Development in collaboration with UNICEF and other partners.
Not only is the response inadequate in scale but also in scope, including programming gaps in specific service domains, geographical coverage, and age-groups.
The national response to the challenges of vulnerable children in Nigeria currently coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, FMWA&SD, started with the Rapid Assessment, Analysis and Action Planning Process, RAAAPP, and the National Orphans and Vulnerable Children Conference in 2004.
Since then Nigeria has put in place policies, strategies, structures and systems to respond to the challenges including the development of a National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Nigeria (2006 -2010).
A participatory review the national plan of action was conducted at its expiration with a view to deploy more effective and inclusive strategies to ensure wellbeing of children, the attainment of national development goals and objectives such as the Vision 20:2020, Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme (Sure-P) and the MDGs.
The outcome of the critical review and stakeholders’ consultation culminated in the development of a new 8-year National Priority Agenda, NPA, for Vulnerable Children in Nigeria 2013 – 2020.
The NPA for Vulnerable Children builds on the achievements of the previous plan, and will help guide the multi-sectoral operationalisation of the strategies and objectives of Nigeria Vision 20:2020 which aim to improve the lives of our most vulnerable children.
The overall goal of the National Priority Agenda for Vulnerable Children in Nigeria is to ensure improved quality of life and total wellbeing of the Nigerian Child through reducing child vulnerability and child poverty, and overcoming the significant inequities in the country.
The document is built around six major commitments, which focus on the critical priorities that must be addressed to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of vulnerable children in Nigeria and these include all poor and vulnerable children have equitable access to and benefit from comprehensive social protection services.
The NPA recognises that one of the major contributing factors to children’s vulnerability is poverty, and that since child poverty and vulnerability are multidimensional in nature, a multisectoral response is required.
It moves beyond the notions that orphaning and vulnerability were primarily due to HIV and AIDS, that the majority of vulnerable children were orphans and that every orphan is vulnerable. It promotes an equity-based approach towards reducing child vulnerability.