Bella Foundation for Child and Maternal Care (BEFCAM)

Fellow: Bella Akhagba

Grant Year: 2019

Location: Imude, Ojo Local Government Area, Lagos State, Nigeria

Organization: Bella Foundation for Child and Maternal Care (BEFCAM)

Project title: Enactment and Implementation of a By-law to Eliminate Child Marriage

Project summary: Nigeria is ranked third globally in having the highest number of child brides. Bella Foundation for Maternal and Child Care (BEFCAM) is working to end child marriage in Lagos State through the creation and implementation of a by-law to ban child marriage. In Nigeria, 18% of girls are married before the age of 15 and 44% of girls are married before the age of 18 (UNICEF). BEFCAM conducted field research in the Imude Community—population of 30,000 residents— and community members indicated that 4 out of every 10 girls marry before the age of 17. Early marriage prevents girls from acquiring further education and skills that can empower them economically and it puts them at higher risk for maternal morbidity and mortality. According to the Federal Ministry of Health National Health Management Information System Register at Imude Maternity Health Care Center, 4 out of 10 women coming in for antenatal care and delivery are young girls between the ages of 12-17 years. BEFCAM will advocate for the Baale (traditional ruler), H.R.H Josiah Ajayi Asade, of Imude Community in Ojo LGA, to start developing and implementing a by-law banning child marriage by April 2020. This project aims to equip program staff, local CSO partners, and girl ambassadors with advocacy skills so they can directly engage with the Baale and other decision makers and stakeholders. To gain support for this new by-law, they will develop and disseminate communication materials in both English and Yoruba, provide relevant SRHR education and training to the girl ambassadors, and establish “Too Young to Marry” clubs at 3 local secondary schools. If passed, the by-law will benefit 4,500 girls between 12 and 17 years old in the Imude Community and foster communal support for girl’s education and skills development and increase access to youth-friendly services.