By Chioma Obinna
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, is partnering with IHS Nigeria, the Nigerian subsidiary of IHS Towers, to accelerate tangible and sustained improvements in the well-being and development of children in rural communities across Nigeria.
To this end, the UN Agency has entered into a partnership with IHS Nigeria, a subsidiary of IHS Towers, in support of a Child-Friendly Community Initiative (CFCI) on which UNICEF is working with the Government of Nigeria to empower and strengthen the capacity of local governments and rural communities, including local development councils, religious and traditional leaders, to adopt child-centred attitudes, behaviours and practices and improve access to basic services that promote child well-being and development.
It is no longer news that children and women in Nigeria face multiple deprivations and challenges, many rooted in poverty and inequality, with millions of them vulnerable to disease, malnutrition, lack of education and numerous violations of their rights.
With the initiative, UNICEF aims for the Child-Friendly Community Initiative to help accelerate tangible and sustained improvements for children in rural Nigeria who is consistently experiencing the highest levels of deprivation and poverty, with a view towards Nigeria achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Speaking on the partnership, UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins vulnerable children tend to suffer from multiple overlapping deprivations that are often mutually reinforcing and UNICEF believes a holistic and integrated approach is required for better outcomes for children.
“The CFCI will be accelerated across Nigeria with the active engagement and support of a diverse range of stakeholders; the private sector has a key role to play as well. We are delighted that IHS shares this vision and is the first company to join the initiative, demonstrating how the private sector can help boost development for children,” he stated.
On his part, during the signing of the partnership, IHS Towers Co-founder, Senior Vice President and IHS Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Mohamad Darwish lauded the UNICEF’s efforts in driving the initiative saying, “Our four pillars – Ethics, People, Environment and Education – have been critical in driving our sustainability efforts within local communities in which we operate throughout the country and we are delighted to partner with UNICEF to continue addressing the needs of the most vulnerable individuals in-line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
A child-friendly community is one where every child receives the nutrients, dietary diversity and stimulation that they need to develop; where every child is fully immunized, has a birth certificate, is protected from violence, exploitation and abuse, has access to quality health care, education and clean water; where the community is certified as open defecation free; and where parents, caregivers, young people and community leaders are informed about and actively engaged in promoting the well-being and development of children.