Extreme hunger has forced many parents to coerce their little girls into arranged marriages, charity World Vision has warned.
Esperance Klugan, national director for World Vision Niger, said the West Africa food crisis was forcing children out of school and into the role of breadwinner or wife, from as young as seven.
Her comments came as the children’s charity launched a campaign to inspire people to support its work in the region. The hashtag #ShareNiger has already reached more than 2 million people on Twitter, urging people to take action.
According to data from World Vision, 37.6 per cent of girls are married off before the age of 15. Some 16,000 children in one area had to drop out of school to support their families, while 4 million children under five years old are at risk of acute malnutrition across West Africa.