AUDIO: Uganda could earn Shs10 Trillion annually from ending Child Marriages- World Bank

The World Bank says ending child marriage today could generate three billion dollars or 10 trillion shillings per year for Uganda by 2030, according to the 10th Uganda Economic Update released today.

The report says in contrast, perpetuation of child marriage would lead to lower educational attainment for girls and their children, higher population growth, substantial health risks, higher intimate partner violence, and lower earnings for women, as well as higher poverty.

Titled "Accelerating Uganda's Development: Educating Girls and Ending Child Marriage and Early Childbearing," the new Uganda Economic Update shows that notwithstanding a declining trend, one in three girls in Uganda still marry before the age of 18, whether through formal or informal unions.

The report notes that almost three in 10 girls have their first child before the age of 18, as a result, the completion rate for both lower and upper secondary school for Ugandan girls remains low.

The report says the largest economic benefits from ending child marriage would result from a reduction in population growth and thereby higher standards of living and lower poverty, with those benefits growing over time, potentially reaching 2.4 billion dollars by 2030.

It adds that the second largest economic cost of child marriage is related to low educational attainment for girls, which in turn leads to lack of good jobs and low expected earnings in adulthood for women.

The report points out that today, if women who had married as girls had been able to delay their marriage, their annual earnings could have been higher by an estimated 500 million dollars.

According to the World Bank, the risks of young children being stunted or dying by age five due to child marriage and teen pregnancies at a young age also have large economic costs.

The report observes that ending child marriage would likely result to a reduction in intimate partner violence, as young wives are more prone to violence from their partners.

By reducing population growth, says the report, ending child marriage would reduce the pressure that providing basic services puts on the national budget, adding that the savings could be invested to improve the quality of public services.

The World Bank says ending child marriage, preventing early childbearing, and investing in girls' education would be beneficial to the flagging economy.

Uganda's economy has averaged 4.5 percent per annum in the past five years, far lower than the rate of 7.0 percent or more achieved in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Commenting on the report, Christina Mamberg Calvo, the World Bank Country Manager for Uganda, says the cost of child marriages does not fall solely to the girls and their babies but constitute an enormous lost opportunity for Ugandan society and the Ugandan economy.


“Unless Uganda returns to vibrant economic growth under fatality rate continues to come down, Uganda’s young people will struggle to make it out of poverty,” she said.

According to Christina, putting girl child education top on its agenda will act as an antidote to attain the middle income status by 2020.


“To ensure that girls can be part, is to aggressively curtail incidences of child marriage, early child bearing and to educate girls,” she added.

Among key recommendations, the economic update calls for greater investment in girls' education, providing economic opportunities for girls who are out of school and cannot go back to school, and imparting adolescent girls with life skills and reproductive health knowledge.


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