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Buhari’s Absence Poses Familiar Questions for Nigerians

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly traveled to London on January 19 for a “short leave” and “routine medical check-ups.” His team promised that he would return by February 6. When that day came, however, the 74-year-old leader extended his leave, with his spokespeople vaguely saying that he was awaiting test results. At the time of writing, Buhari remains in the United Kingdom, leaving Nigerians with questions over the country’s fragile economic and security climate.

The Nigerian population is growing increasingly nervous about the president’s condition. There was a palpable sense of relief when Buhari’s voice was heard via speakerphone at a recent prayer service. If the president is already, or becomes, seriously ill, it will have serious implications for Africa’s most populous country. His absence evokes uncomfortable parallels with the extended incapacitation of the late Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in May 2010 after more than six months of illness. Yar’Adua’s illness and death touched off a complex political crisis whose reverberations were felt for years afterwards. The longer Buhari spends away from home, the more these tensions will grow. At present, however, there are four key differences between Buhari’s and Yar’Adua’s situations.

First, Buhari appears to be healthier than Yar’Adua was. From November 2009—when Yar’Adua left Nigeria for Saudi Arabia—until his death, it was never clear whether Yar’Adua was in a functional capacity. Yar’Adua’s wife and inner circle largely blocked access to the president. A three-minute phone interview Yar’Adua granted to the BBC’s Hausa service in January 2010 did little to allay the concerns about his condition. Even after he returned to Nigeria in February 2010, he was inaccessible even to many senior government personnel.

In contrast to the secrecy surrounding the ailing Yar’Adua, Buhari’s team has sought to broadcast that their man remains in charge. They have circulated photographs of the president in London meeting Nigerian politicians. Buhari is also continuing to conduct some government business, speaking by phone with US President Donald Trump on February 13. If Buhari is having trouble carrying out his duties, he and his team are concealing it well.

Second, Buhari has arranged a clearer transfer of power than Yar’Adua did. In 2009, Yar’Adua did not initially designate his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, as acting president—that designation took the intervention of the Nigerian Senate, and only in February 2010, after Yar’Adua had been gone two-and-a-half months. Jonathan’s elevation to acting president, moreover, alarmed Yar’Adua’s people, who quickly arranged for the president to be flown home two weeks later. Yar’Adua’s return left the question of presidential authority unanswered until his death.

Buhari, undoubtedly keen to prevent any similar scenario, decided upon his departure to make his vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s acting president. In fact, January marked the third time during his presidency that Buhari had temporarily transferred power to Osinbajo. Buhari communicated his wish to the National Assembly, effectively forestalling any short-term (or, now, medium-term) constitutional crisis. As if to reinforce their boss’s wishes, Buhari’s spokespeople on social media have eagerly publicized Osinbajo’s activities, depicting him as hard at work.

Third, then, Buhari seems to have a better relationship with Osinbajo than Yar’Adua did with Jonathan. In 2007, when Yar’Adua won election as president with Jonathan as his running mate, there was a widespread feeling in Nigeria that the pair had come together through the machinations of another man—outgoing president Olusegun Obasanjo—rather than on their own initiative.

Buhari seems to have exercised more agency in his pick of Osinbajo. It is true that the current vice president is widely seen as the close ally of a powerful southwestern Nigerian politician, Bola Tinubu, whose support was instrumental in Buhari’s own 2015 election, and so one should not assume that Buhari had an unrestricted choice of running mate. But Buhari actively welcomed Osinbajo to his ticket, and the two have projected an image of close cooperation since taking office. Buhari’s willingness to repeatedly make Osinbajo acting president is the ultimate sign of trust.

A fourth, and related, difference between Buhari’s situation and Yar’Adua’s is the trajectory of Nigeria’s national politics. In 2007, Nigeria was firmly under the control of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the key national political question was that of how the presidency would rotate between southern and northern Nigeria. An internal PDP arrangement followed “zoning,” meaning that after eight years of Obasanjo, a southerner, it was the north’s turn to have two four-year presidential terms. Yar’Adua’s death, and Jonathan’s succession (and then his re-election, in his own right, in 2011) upset that zoning arrangement, perhaps permanently.

Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), have sent mixed signals about whether Buhari intends to run again in 2019. There are reports that APC politicians are already jockeying for power in Buhari’s absence and amid mounting speculation about the 2019 presidential ticket, but the rules of presidential zoning appear less set in stone now than they were while Yar’Adua was president. For the moment, Osinbajo appears to enjoy broad goodwill within the APC, including in the north.

Buhari—and Nigeria—are in a much better situation than Yar’Adua was in 2009-2010. But the country’s current working arrangement would experience considerable strain if Buhari’s health deteriorated, or if he died. The issue of north-south zoning is one that the APC, and Nigerian voters generally, would be best off resolving in an orderly and planned manner during the 2019 primaries and general election. Should Buhari fail to return from London, even a well-managed transition would distract politicians’ attention away from urgent challenges such as implementing the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan, defeating the Boko Haram sect in the northeast, and making peace in the oil-producing Niger Delta. The longer Buhari remains out of the country, however, the more likely it is that he is suffering from something serious, and that these obstacles will need to be addressed.

Source: https://theglobalobservatory.org/2017/02/buhari-nigeria-yaradua-boko-haram/

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Trump’s Africa Policy: Unclear and Uncertain

Africa is not likely to emerge as one of US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy priorities. But the continent is almost certain to be affected by the fallout from his hardline foreign policy views, his strong anti-Muslim pronouncements, his vow to eliminate Islamic terrorism, and his “America First” economic policies.  And the prospects are probably bleak for any bold new development initiatives targeted at Africa like those rolled by his predecessors Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Over the past two decades, US Africa policy has enjoyed strong bipartisan congressional support from both Democrats and Republicans working together. But without a strong commitment to Africa in the White House or Executive Branch under Trump, the major programmes that have defined US policy in Africa for the past two decades will probably struggle to sustain the previous funding levels and state support.

Trump has exhibited no interest in Africa. Nor have any of his closest White House advisors. Except for some campaign comments about Libya and Benghazi, the new president has made very few remarks about the continent. And despite his global network of hotel, golf and tourist holdings, he appears to have no investments or business relationships in sub-Saharan Africa.

The one member of Trump’s inner circle that may have an interest in Africa is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He has some experience of Africa because of his many years in the oil industry with ExxonMobil, most of whose successful dealings on the continent were with largely corrupt and authoritarian leaders.

If Tillerson appoints a moderate and experienced Africa expert to run the Africa Bureau – and there are a dozen Republicans who meet that definition – and if he is able to keep policy in the control of the State Department, African issues may not be pushed aside completely. But irrespective of who manages Trump’s Africa policy, there will be a major change from recent previous administrations.

President Obama pushed a strong democratic agenda and launched half a dozen new development programmes including Power Africa, Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative. Before him, Bush’s “compassionate” approach led to the establishment of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), two of America’s most widely-praised programmes on the continent.

But Trump’s world view is more myopic. He believes in “America First” and questions the value of the United Nations, NATO and the European Union. He is strongly opposed to nation-building and large overseas assistance programmes. He looks suspiciously at trade agreements. And he has railed against Muslims and other foreigners, while he has publically praised dictators and tyrants.

Under Trump, any focus on Africa will likely be on military and security issues, not democracy, good governance or human rights.  These policies are likely to find greater favour with Africa’s autocrats than civil society or local business leaders.

What can we expect in the different areas of US engagement?

Security and counterterrorism

We should expect an uptick in military and security cooperation with a number of African nations, especially those facing terrorist threats given Trump’s promise to wage an all-out war on Islamist militancy. The US role in the battle against al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and armed groups in the Sahel region will probably be expanded, and African support for US actions may become a new litmus test for closer relations.

Democracy and governance

We should probably expect a sharp drop off in White House support for democracy and governance programmes. Trump has denounced nation-building abroad and said during his inaugural address that he will “not seek to impose” America’s “way of life on anyone”. His policies will almost certainly result in less spending on the promotion of political reforms, democracy and the conduct of free and fair elections in Africa.

Human rights

The Obama administration routinely spoke out against torture, detention and extrajudicial killings, and pushed for greater gender equality and LGBTI rights. This will not happen under a Trump administration which has praised some authoritarian leaders, asserted the value of torture, and already curbed funding for women’s health programmes. The recent executive order excluding citizens from seven majority Muslim countries, including three in Africa, is an indication that respect for human rights and civil liberties will take a back seat to notions of security.

Business relations

Trump’s “America First” stance will probably lead to the collapse of Obama’s major economic initiatives in Africa. Trade Africa, a regional effort to boost trade among five East African nations; Doing Business in the Africa, designed to encourage American businesses to trade with the continent; and the high-level US-Africa business summits Obama hosted are all in jeopardy. With Trump complaining about American companies moving jobs overseas and touting a new form of economic nationalism, dealing with Africa economically will not be a priority.

Trade

The strongly bipartisan African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been the centrepiece of American trade policy in Africa, but its non-reciprocal concessionary treatment runs counter to Trump’s trade doctrine. Trump’s administration has focused on TPP (the Asia free trade deal) and NAFTA (the North American free trade agreement) so far, but at some point AGOA, which was recently renewed until 2025, will inevitably come to the attention of someone in the White House. Despite bipartisan support, the best hope for AGOA is that it will be allowed to remain in place with declining support until it expires. If there is an effort to reframe it, the US will probably demand African nations open their markets to American goods on a reciprocal basis.

Exchange programmes

One of Obama’s most successful programmes was the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which brings several hundred young African professionals and entrepreneurs to the US for six weeks each summer. Although it has the potential to be as significant to Africa as the Fulbright Programme was to Europe, YALI could be an early casualty. YALI is not covered by any congressional legislation and is not funded beyond 2017. Previous Republican administrations have cut back exchange programmes and YALI has no natural constituency in the Trump administration.

Climate change

Climate change is a major problem for Africa, but many in the Trump administration have denied or downplayed its importance, threatening to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement. UN and US studies have shown that Africa will be impacted by climate change more than any other region of the world and that African nations are the least prepared to deal with it. A shift on the global agreement will have damaging ripple effects across the continent.

USAID

Trump has said that rebuilding America’s deteriorating infrastructure would be one of his domestic priorities, and as he sets about this, USAID’s overseas programmes could become an easy target to be cut. Trump has already criticised them as wasteful and corrupt, and his administration might easily align itself with Republicans who fought to reduce development spending and eliminate the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation – two organisations that have supported America’s trade, aid and development projects in Africa and around the world.
Benign neglect

It is possible that Trump’s term in office will surprise us on Africa. Republican administrations have outperformed on this front before. President Bush certainly did, and his two landmark development initiatives – PEPFAR and MCC – remain extremely popular.

But given the absence of any serious White House interest in Africa, Secretary Tillerson may become the key American player on Africa. He could put Africa policy on a solid footing by appointing an experienced Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; supporting key Bush- and Obama-era food, health and power development initiatives; and maintaining the business-focused policies of Obama. He could also throw his support behind USAID, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and EXIM Bank, all of which strengthen US economic and development objectives in Africa.

Congressional leaders could also play an important role by maintaining their strong two-decade-long bipartisan support for Africa and encouraging the administration to prioritise and not to marginalise Africa.

But realistically, perhaps the most the continent can really hope for under Trump is “benign neglect”.

Johnnie Carson was US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 2009 to 2012. He is currently a Senior Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace and a Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute at Yale University.

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EWER: Jos Situation Review, October to December 2016

The Jos Early Warning/Early Response (EWER) System uses a volunteering monitoring network to gather data and information about violent incidents and situational change in 12 wards of Jos-North LGA, Plateau State, North-Central Nigeria. Local monitors collect the data, which is then transmitted for analysis and entry into the EWER database and incident crowdmap. Click here to request for full report.

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Nigeria in Serious Crisis – UN Report

DATAVILLE RESEARCH – A report just released by the United Nations, UN, on Nigeria’s Common Country Analysis, CCA, has revealed a deeply divided society on the basis of the plurality of ethnic, religious and regional identities that had tended to define the country’s political existence.

The report also painted a gloomy picture, with most of the development and social indices in the country registering at levels unacceptable.

The report, which was read during a consultative meeting on the formulation of the UN Development Assistance Framework IV (UNDAF IV) for the South East geo-political zone in Awka observed that for decades, different segments of Nigeria’s population had, at different times, expressed feelings of marginalization, of being short –changed, dominated, oppressed, threatened, or even targeted for elimination.

The report read in part: “Nigeria, with a population of over 175 million, is the most populous nation in Africa and the seventh most populous in the world. Her population will be approximately 200 million by 2019 and over 400 million by 2050, becoming one of the top five populous countries in the world.

“Nigeria is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world, with over 80 million or 64% of her population living below poverty line. The situation has not changed over the decades, but is increasing. Poverty and hunger have remained high in rural areas, remote communities and among female –headed households and these cut across the six geo-political zones, with prevalence ranging from approximately 46.9 percent in the South West to 74.3 percent in North West and North East.

“In Nigeria, 37% of children under five years old were stunted, 18 percent wasted, 29% underweight and overall, only 10% of children aged 6-23 months are fed appropriately based on recommended infant and young children feeding practices.

“Youth unemployment which is 42% in 2016 is very high, creating poverty, helplessness, despair and easy target for crime and terrorism. Over 10 million children of school age are out of schools with no knowledge and skills.

“Nigeria’s economy is currently in a recession and it is estimated that government revenues have fallen by as much as 33 percent, which has further resulted in the contraction of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, by 0.36 percent in the first three months of 2016.

“The vulnerable macroeconomic environment in Nigeria is affecting investors’ confidence in the domestic economy.” When contacted last night to react to the report, federal government officials said they where not aware of it and couldn’t, therefore, react.

“Despite the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to a number of protocols on sustainable and renewable environment, the country had, over the decades, failed to protect the environment, ecosystem and natural resources. Over-exploitation of natural resources and pollution of the environment, desertification are exposing the population to vulnerability and risks caused by climate change, among others.

“Nigeria is well-endowed with forest resources, accounting for 2.5% of GDP. But Nigeria has one of the highest rates of forest loss in the world. Between 1990 and 2000, Nigeria lost an average of 409,700 hectares of forest per year on average deforestation rate of 3.5% per annum.

“Increase in population, human activities like farming, construction and cutting of trees, use of wood and effect of climate change lead to environmental destruction across Nigeria.”

This in turn leads to unpredictable weather, drought and floods. The implication of destruction of the environment includes reduced agricultural productivity, destruction of property and loss of lives.

“Nigeria faces humanitarian and emergency crises of considerable proportions fueled by a combination of factors including climate change, inter-communal conflicts and violence, insurgency, recurring floods, heavy handed tactics of security forces in combating crime and insurgency. The overall consequence is the situation of systematic and chronic internal displacement that has given rise to different humanitarian crises that include the most egregious and dehumanizing human rights abuses.

“Over 80 million Nigerians live in poverty and are affected in one way or the other by the current humanitarian crisis. Available reports indicate that there are over 3.3 million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, which is Africa’s largest, ranking behind Syria and Columbia on a global scale.

“The major challenges Nigeria is currently facing that constrain her economic growth and social development are lack of good governance, general increased insecurity across geo-political zones in North East, Niger Delta and Lake Chad region in particular. The situation is exacerbated by the existence of systematic accountability challenges, limited capacities of independent institutions/ commissions and limited accountability at the federal, states and local government levels.

“Nigeria is a deeply divided society considering the plurality of ethnic, religious and regional identities that define her political existence. Since independence in 1960, Nigeria has struggled to build and sustain national integration. For decades, different segments of Nigeria’s population had, at different times, expressed feelings of marginalization, of being short-changed, dominated, oppressed, threatened, or even targeted for elimination.”

The report recommended that transforming and diversifying Nigeria’s development paths needed a radical and new approach, especially by investing in people and in a strong more dynamic and inclusive productive informal sector. It also called for a design and support of joint programmes to address good governance, peace and security.

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Restoring Livelihoods for Displaced Nigerians

Food vouchers and new skills help counter effects of crisis

August 2016—In northeastern Nigeria, more than 2 million people are internally displaced. Most have fled violence caused by the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency as well as military efforts to dislodge the group.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are among the world’s most vulnerable people. Not only have they lost their homes and, possibly, their loved ones, but they often face food insecurity and a loss of livelihood. To address these challenges, USAID is supporting emergency assistance to IDPs, host communities and Nigerian refugees in neighboring countries—Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

USAID support has brightened the future of IDPs like Esther Sylvanus and her four children. One year ago, Boko Haram killed Sylvanus’s husband in their hometown of Damaturu in Yobe state. Fearing for her children’s lives and her own life, Sylvanus fled to Gombe state, which hosts more than 27,000 IDPs.

Sylvanus soon realized she had no way to support her family. Her children were forced to drop out of school and they struggled to eat two meals a day.

A USAID emergency food assistance program provided Sylvanus’s family with electronic vouchers that are redeemable in local markets for nutritious foods. The vouchers promote the dignity of beneficiaries by allowing them to purchase local foods of their choice while supporting local businesses. Sylvanus also received vouchers for essential household items.

“The voucher thing was all new to me, but I was happy because I bought what I needed for my family, which included mattresses, mats, buckets, children wear [clothes], detergent and toiletries for my household,” explained Sylvanus.

With USAID support, Sylvanus was also able to save enough money to start a business. She began raising catfish to sell and went on to participate in a livelihoods-building program that enabled her to buy a sewing machine and start a second business.

Now, with the success of both the small fishery and sewing business, all four of her children are enrolled in school again. Sylvanus can afford medical costs when needed and is continuing to expand her businesses. Her participation in the USAID-supported programs helped Sylvanus not only to meet the urgent needs of her family, but also to learn new skills that will benefit her and her children in the future.

“I now feel like I have recovered completely because I can provide for my family adequately,” said Sylvanus.

To date in FY 2016, USAID has provided more than $64 million in humanitarian assistance throughout the Lake Chad Basin region and $34 million in northeastern Nigeria alone. This assistance is helping IDPs, host communities and refugees to meet their most urgent needs while helping them to restore their livelihoods, building resilience to the ongoing Boko Haram crisis.

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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Donates $1m to Boko Haram Victims

Nigeria’s Borno State has confirmed receipt of a cash donation of $1 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The funds are meant to support victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north eastern state.

The state governor, Kashim Shettima made the disclosure over the weekend while distributing food items and farm inputs to victims of the insurgency.

“We are gathered here today to commence distribution of a key intervention of one million U.S. dollars food and farming aid donated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,’’ Shettima is quoted by local media to have said.

“We are grateful to God for creating people like Mr Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. These leading lights of philanthropy across the world have shown love to the good people of Borno”

According to him, about 40,000 households were targeted to benefit from the ongoing humanitarian relief efforts. Each household were to get a bag of rice and beans each.

He further disclosed that some 200 farm-families were also going to be handed land with incentives like improved seeds, fertilizer, chemicals and technical supervision to grow food crops.

“We are grateful to God for creating people like Mr Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. These leading lights of philanthropy across the world have shown love to the good people of Borno at a time we are on the ground and looking for any hand to hold in trying to lift ourselves up,’‘ he said.

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Inclusive Education in Nigeria

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This study investigated the attitudes toward inclusive education held by 2000 special educators across Nigeria. Participants were administered a modified version of the Attitudes toward Inclusion in Africa Scale (ATIAS). The scale was divided into four factors, namely, Behaviour Issues, Student Needs, Resource Issues and Professional Competency. The mean score of each of the ATIAS was compared by categories of eight descriptive variables.

Female respondents indicated more confidence in their professional competency to teach special needs children than male respondents.

Younger respondents and those with prior training in inclusion were more likely than their counterparts to believe that adequate resources were available to assist teachers to implement inclusion.

Advanced formal education was associated with a greater tolerance for negative behaviours (that are sometimes connected with special needs students) and with a more positive attitude toward special supports for students with sensory disabilities.

Special educators employed in Northern states were more likely than their southern counterparts to believe that students with behavioural issues should attend their neighbourhood schools.

Participants expressed their concerns that schools lack trained special education personnel, specialized materials and friendly infrastructure. Recommendations were made for the successful practice of inclusion in Nigeria.

Field survey headed by Chinedu Anaele
Director
Dataville Research LLC

Click here to request full policy brief

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Supporting Mothers to Breastfeed Will Improve Children’s Chances of Survival

On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week (1 to 7 August), UNICEF, along with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is recommending the provision of increased professional and informal support for breastfeeding mothers.

“Breastfeeding is a key tool in improving child survival said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life can avert up to 13 per cent of under-five deaths in developing countries.”

Although there has been progress over the past 15 years, only 38 per cent of infants under 6 months of age in the developing world are exclusively breastfed. In Nigeria the figure is even lower, rather than increase the gains previously made in exclusive breastfeeding are being eroded. In 1999, 22% of children were exclusively breastfed. This figure came down to 17% in 2003, today only 11.7% of children are exclusively breastfed for six months in Nigeria.

Recent scientific studies have found that education and support for mothers significantly extends the number of months that mothers breastfeed, and is especially helpful in promoting exclusive breastfeeding. Other studies have shown that counseling and support in health facilities have led to increases in the number of mothers who initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth.

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life reduces infant mortality linked to common childhood illnesses and under nutrition.

Breastfeeding can reduce the number of deaths caused by acute respiratory infection and diarrhea – two major child killers – as well as from other infectious diseases. It also contributes to the health of mothers, and creates a bond between the mother and child.

Appropriate infant feeding can save lives, ensure optimal growth and development, and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

UNICEF is working with its partners and Governments in many countries to ensure the provision of increased support for breastfeeding mothers, including by health workers, counselors, mother-to-mother support groups, employers, relief workers in emergencies, legislators, the family and community social networks. In Nigeria, we support advocacy and communication to change behaviour to foster the culture of exclusive breastfeeding.

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Africa: Leaving No Child in Africa Behind – Financing Public Investments in Children in the Post-MDGs Era

analysis By Bob Libert Muchabaiwa

What is required now, more than ever before, is action. The financing architectures of many African countries need overhauling. They need to engender equity, child rights, transparency and accountability. Unless that is don, the many regional and international commitments that touch on children will remain mere political pronouncements.

Beco (not her real name) is a 15-year-old girl. She is still in her first year in secondary school, despite her advanced age compared to her classmates. At the age of 10 she was forced to dropout from school because her single mother died of birth complications in a rural village in Zimbabwe. Courtesy of one Good Samaritan in her village, Beco is now back in school. The lack of books, teachers and other educational materials in her rural school does not seem to discourage her from attending class every day. Her dream is to finish school, train as a doctor and help her family.

Many children in Africa are like Beco. They are, at some point in time, forced to drop out of school. Moreover, hundreds of thousands are sadly still out of school due to conflict, lack of fees and other factors. Primary school net enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa stands at 78%.[1] Unfortunately, nobody seems to be wondering about what is happening to the 22%, which literally means a lot of children are out school. Many children also live without appropriate parental care. Across Africa, there are millions of children like Beco going to very poorly built schools, with no electricity, poor water and sanitation facilities, no proper library services and often without trained and experienced teachers.

Consequently, millions of children on the continent are being left behind.

Unicef estimates that over 2 million children in Africa die every year mainly because of preventable causes including diseases, malnutrition and hunger. The organization further estimates that 37% of all children in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted.[2] As if that is not enough, both at home and in school, many children in Africa are continuously exposed to several forms of violence. For instance, girls like Beco are forced to walk long distances to access education, fetch water and buy groceries for their families, making them twice as vulnerable to sexual abuse as their urban counterparts.

Insufficient, ineffective and inequitable public spending on child-focused sectors and programmes stands as the biggest barrier to enjoyment of rights by all children.[3] To date, only 7 countries in Africa have at some point in time met the Abuja target for African governments to allocate at least 15% of their budgets to health. Furthermore, no African country has so far met the Dakar Commitment on Education for All to allocate at least 7% of its GDP to education, which should have increased to 9% in 2010. In 2014, with the exception of Malawi, Niger and South Africa, who have come close by spending between 5.5-7%, the rest of African states are spending below 5% of their GDP on education, well below the Dakar Commitment.

The Sustainable Development Goals, Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on Financing for Development and Agenda 2063 of the African Union are therefore timely and strategic. They constitute lifetime opportunities for African governments to mobilize domestic and international resources to increase and improve the quality of public investments in child protection, health, education, social protection, early childhood care and other child-focused sectors. These international commitments are a call to action, representing bold and renewed efforts to ensure no child in Africa is left behind. In view of these policy commitments, there is no better time than now for African states to consolidate gains made for children over the past decade, by taking bold actions to positively transform how they finance development.

Through Agenda 2063 – the African Union’s roadmap for economic growth and sustainable development – African governments made a commitment to “put children first” and to “fulfil their obligation to children as an inter-generational compact in order to develop Africa’s human capital; build effective developmental states as well as participatory and accountable institutions of governance.”[5]

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