Niger: Hunger Crisis Encourages Child Marriages
Thursday, July 12, 2012 11:40 AM

In the midst of a food crisis exacerbated by its landlocked position and scarcity of arable land, Niger faces the highest rate of child marriage in the world with 75 percent of girls marrying before age 18 and 50 percent marrying before age 15.  The fact that parents see girls as one of their last economic bargaining chips links the food crisis to this disturbing statistic. 

With high population growth, a young population, and the world’s highest fertility rate at an average of seven children per woman, parents in Niger have many mouths to feed and insufficient access to food.  For this reason, the dowries that they receive in return for marrying off their daughters can be too attractive to wait until the girls are older.

“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,” Djanabou Mahonde, the head of child protection at UNICEF, said.

Compiled from: "In Niger, hunger crisis raises fears of more child marriages," The Washington Post, (9 July 2012).