The findings of the 2017/2018 Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) has revealed that child marriages is highest in Northern, Upper East, and Volta regions and lowest in Accra, Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions.
The survey showed that child marriage increases with less wealth and less education and that more proportions of persons in rural than urban areas practice child marriage.
Mr Peter Takyi Peprah, the Project Coordinator, MICS, presenting the report in Accra, said one in every five women age 20-24 years were first married before age 18 years, adding that the figure remains lower, at one in every 20 women for the same age group married for the first time before age 15 year.
The survey was conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
The 2017 MICS covered about 20 thematic areas including early marriage, child labour, child discipline, gender equality, education, birth registration, and early childhood development.
The survey was developed by UNICEF to assist countries in filling data gaps for monitoring the situation of children and women.
The survey was conducted throughout the country covering 13,200 households in both urban and rural areas and started from October 2017 to January 2018.
Touching on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the survey revealed that the overall practice of FGM is low in the country, stressing that 3.6 per cent of women in the rural areas perform the practice three times more than women in urban areas of 1.2 per cent.
The survey showed that women in the poorest quintile perform the practice seven times more compared to women in the richest quintile.
It also shows that more than nine in every ten of those who have heard about FGM do not agree with the continuity of the practice.
On drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, the survey shows that eight in every ten household populations are using basic drinking water services and only one in every five households in the country have improved sanitation facility for their households.
The report said more than one in every five households still practice open defecation and that there is a clear wealth disparity on basic water access, with the wealth nearly twice as likely to have access as the poor.
The report said children with disabilities are among the most marginalised groups in society, facing daily discrimination in the form of negative attitudes, and lack of adequate policies and legislation.
It said discrimination and exclusion of children with disabilities also puts them at a higher risk of physical and emotional abuse or other forms of neglect, violence and exploitation.
Touching on HIV and sexual behaviour, the report said that there is low HIV comprehensive knowledge among adolescents and young people and about eight in every ten women reported discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV.
The Acting Government Statistician, Mr Baah Wadieh said the survey was launched in October 2017, with the aim to provide more current information for assessing the situation of children, women and men and reporting on the nation’s performance in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said the survey was also to contribute to the improvement of data and monitoring systems in the country and to strengthen technical expertise in the design, implementation and analysis of such systems.