More than 2.2 million people have been displaced, half of whom are children, and at least 10 million need assistance across north-east Nigeria,in the crisis affecting the Lake Chad Basin which is one of the most severe humanitarian emergencies in the world.
Cameroon’s far north, western Chad and south-east Niger. In the past few years much has been written about the challenges facing those caught up in the crisis but very little focuses on the specific needs of adolescent girls, or on their role in building peace and prosperity in the region.
A study by Plan International explores the ways in which adolescent girls within two age brackets (10-14 and 15-19) deal with the impact the crisis has upon them.
Nor is it often recognised that during long-term crises the physical safety, health and future prospects of adolescent girls are all threatened in ways that differ from the risks faced by adolescent boys or adult women.
It seeks to amplify their voices and perceptions of the crisis and presents their views on how the international community might respond.
The research shows that despite the enormity of challenges facing adolescent girls, they demonstrate impressive
resilience, entrepreneurial skills, a commitment to hard work and a desire to help others.
They also show an understanding of what’s needed to improve their futures and the ability to articulate it. Adolescent girls are, for example, acutely aware of the role that poverty plays in their lives and how lack of money, and the skill to earn any, will limit their own lives and make it difficult for their communities to rebuild.
“We know that girls have asked for support, physically, emotionally, practically and in terms of safeguarding their future; they emphasise the importance of education and are determined to contribute to rebuilding, not only their own lives, but their communities and nations. The recommendations that follow are based upon their priorities”
The research there recommends the following:
• Include us: promote and fund efforts that encourage adolescent girls to take part in all decisions that affect them; ensure their needs and basic human rights are met.
• Educate us: encourage families to keep girls in school and provide vocational and skills training.
• Keep us safe: improve security conditions for all adolescent girls and work with families and communities to tackle the underlying discrimination that leads to violence against adolescent girls.
• Provide for us: promote measures to ease the economic crisis and improve access to food and water.
• Inform us: make sure that girls have access to appropriate health care and in particular have the knowledge about sexual and reproductive health and rights that they need to keep safe and protect their futures