Imagine if I were to suddenly drop a bomb in and around the area that you reside or if I were to start and instigate a civil war in and around your area. How do you think that would affect you? How about the kid who’s supposed to write their exam the next day? How would either of these conflicts threaten the future of your area?
In April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, Abubakar Shekau announced his intention of selling them into slavery. Five years later 13 girls are presumed dead and 112 still missing.
The reality is that about 125 young girls are missing out or have already missed out on life, let alone going to school. A conflict caused by a group of people who hold a belief that they have to kill to in order to ‘purify’ Islam in Nigeria, particularly in northern Nigeria.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were developed to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have somewhat given countries something to live for, well at least some. Meeting these goals however, is a very challenging task since each one of them has the ability to affect one another.
SDG 16 for instance, the one that advocates for peace and reconciliation is an important goal to the overall count of SDGs.
A study by the International Alert and UNICEF revealed that girls and women released from Boko Haram captivity often face rejection upon returning to their communities and families, due to a culture of stigma around sexual violence. When these young girls are rejected, they have no chance of attending any educational institution as they would not have a place they can call home, consequently, they might end up living on the streets, thus increasing the country’s state of poverty and possibly the level of hunger as they strive to survive on the streets, away from home.
In 2017, South Sudan had over 2.2 million children out of school due to conflicts in several regions. The country recorded the highest proportion of children out of school globally. One third of all schools had been damaged or destroyed during the conflicts over the years. Another setback to economic growth – no schools means no learning and no learning means no growth.
However, South Sudan is not alone, in Somalia, over two decades of conflicts meant that access to basic education was among the lowest in the world. In Uganda, the year 2017 saw over one million refugees coming from South Sudan due to conflicts, and more than half were children.
If a bomb exploded in and around your community, schools, hospitals, homes would be destroyed and that would be like taking some 10 steps backwards in life.
In some instances, before we even build schools for the sake of meeting SDG 4, we also need to think about how we can protect the future of young people by striving towards peace and reconciliation.
If countries in Africa don’t fight for peace and reconciliation, conflicts and wars will bring Africa to its knees.