UNFPA works in partnership with the Government of Nigeria to implement development activities that provide universal access to sexual and reproductive health, promote reproductive rights, reduce maternal mortality and accelerates progress towards the achievement of the ICPD declaration.
The Fund began its operation in Nigeria in 1997. It works with the Government through a "Country Framework of Cooperation" (Country Programme) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). We are present in all the thirty six (36) states of country, including the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T), with three (3) sub-offices in Lagos, Kaduna and Cross Rivers states. The Fund’s intervention within the past eighteen years (18) has helped build structures for a potentially vibrant and strong health system in Nigeria and the West Africa Region. In 2015 for example, for the first time in the history of the country, a comprehensive bill on reproductive rights and gender based violence was enacted.
Our intervention in Nigeria is particularly significant in a country where population and reproductivehealth programmes compete with many other underserved sectors for allocation of funds amidst dwindling resources. For instance, for many years allocation to the health sector by the Government of Nigeria was undesirably less than the 5% of Gross National Product, recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Although significant progress has been made in making the environment conducive for the implementation of sexual and reproductive health programmes, there is still a resistance to issues of family planning, sexuality education, reproductive rights and elimination of harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and other forms of gender based violence.
Gender inequality is still pervasive but progress has been made. According to the 2013 NDHS, 38% of women lack formal education compared to 21.% of men. Only 4 in every 10 women have higher education compared to 8 in every 10 men. About half of the women are unemployed compared to only 24% of men.
Maternal mortality is high at 576 per every 100, 000 live birth (this is due to the population size of the country). Contraceptive prevalence is low at 10%. Although the age at first sexual intercourse is 21 years for boys and 17.6 years for girls, there is a sharp contrast in regional variations; with the North West and North East averaging as low as 12 years. This reflects the prevalence of early marriages in these regions and is linked to the high incidence of vesico vagina fistula (VVF). In Nigeria, women remain more at risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS, particularly between the ages of 15-24 years than men. They bear most of the burden of reproductive health due to limited access.
There is therefore a need to strengthen the health system to redress the context using the strategic framework for adolescent reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and family planning as well as advocacy for the use of policy frameworks such as national policies on health, women, population, youth and poverty eradication.
UNFPA assists the Government of Nigeria at the state and federal levels through institutional capacity building and the network of stakeholders including donor agencies to create the right environment for addressing the nation’s population and reproductive health needs.