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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 14:33 GMT
Anger over Nigerian child census
Children in Nigeria
The survey is to gain better information about vulnerable children in Nigeria
Parents in a northern Nigerian state have reacted angrily to a government census of "vulnerable children".

The nationwide survey is supposed to shed light on the lives of children in poverty.

But some parents in the northern city of Bauchi are afraid they will get into trouble because their children work.

Children born in poverty are often put to work at a very young age by parents or guardians. The government says it needs to know more about the situation.

"Any child you see who is vulnerable is a direct reflection of the situation of his parents," said parent Sagir Madaki.

If the government wanted to help the children they should help the parents out of poverty, he said.

too young?

Mr Madaki was among many parents who questioned the value of surveying young children.

"How can these children, some as young as three or four, give meaningful answers about their lives?" he said.

map

But the government said the survey would provide a better picture of child poverty in the country, which could lead to more money from government and international donors.

"We are asking very simple questions," census taker Dalhatu Suleiman Darazon said.

"We are also asking questions of the children's parents and guardians, but the problem is some adults think that children don't have a say about their lives. That is wrong."

Shehu Saulawa of the BBC's Hausa service in Bauchi says many parents who live in poverty rely on the work their children do, and the survey makes them afraid that the government will come after them.

There were approximately 7 million orphans and vulnerable children across the country in 2003, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development said.

By 2010 that number is projected to be 10 million.

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