Almost 60 percent of Nigerian children are now registered at birth with civil authorities, the 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey/National Immunization Coverage Survey Report has revealed.
The new survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) also revealed that the country’s exclusive breastfeeding rate increased from 24 percent to 34 per cent, compared to 47 per cent in 2016.
Also, the report said child marriage (women married before age 18) has reduced from 44 percent to 30 percent since 2016.
The report officially launched on Tuesday in Abuja by the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, showed there has been significant progress in exclusive breastfeeding and birth registration rates in Nigeria.
The NBS explained that the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey provides reliable nationwide and internationally comparable data to monitor the situation of children and women in Nigeria.
The survey, the NBS said,is a household exercise developed by UNICEF to assist countries in filling data gaps for monitoring human development indicators in general and the situation of children and women, in particular.
The study, the NBS said, has evolved over the years to respond to changing data needs, expanding from 28 indicators in the first round in 1999 to 200 in its current sixth edition.
The NBS said implemented MICS provides data on child mortality, health, nutrition, education, child and social protection, women’s health care and empowerment, water, sanitation and hygiene, while NICS assesses vaccination coverage provided through the health systems.
The statistics agency said indicators produced for the first time include social transfer, household energy use, child functioning and foundational learning skills.
Besides, the survey measures the government’s progress towards national commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The MICS results revealed that Nigeria made progress in some sectors, with child mortality decreasing from one in eight children dying before their fifth birthday (MICS 2016) to one in 10 children (MICS 2021).
“The 2021 Nigeria MICS-NICS report provides evidence-based data for all key stakeholders to prioritise quality services for children and women with higher efficiency and effectiveness,” the Statistician-General of the Federation/CEO of the NBS, Adeyemi Adeniran, said.
“The information collated will inform policies aimed at social inclusion of the most vulnerable population, help identify disparities, and allow for international comparability,” Adeniran added.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said data was critical for effective budgeting and decision making.
He said the data from these surveys together paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria, adding that the picture was a mixed one.
While there has been some good progress that should be celebrated, the UNICEF official said there was still a long way to go to towards ensuring the well-being of children in Nigeria.
He said the findings of the survey would help guide the federal and state governments as they plan their budgets through evidence provided for where more support and funds need to be allocated and utilized.
“As we build back better from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MICS-NICS survey provides evidence to shape interventions and focus resources in a way that helps children and their families reach their full potential,” Adeniran said.
“Using the data to monitor progress towards our collective commitments to children and families, and inform future action is critical if we must leave no one behind,” Adeniran said.