Enduring more agency and community surveillance support to reduce child marriage in Bangladesh

Principal Investigator

Dr. Abu S. Shonchoy

Dr. Zaki Wahhaj

Project Area


Project Background

Many children and adolescents around the world today lack official birth records, which may be key to accessing publicly provided health and education services and state protection against the abuse of child rights. In places where birth registration systems have been introduced recently, parents may not be able to bear the costs or lack the necessary information to carry out the registration process.

Dr Abu Parves Shonchoy at Florida International University and Dr Zaki Wahhaj at the University of Kent have been investigating how birth registration of adolescent girls in developing countries can be accelerated with the aim of disrupting the traditional practice of female early marriage.

Grand Challenges Canada, an initiative funded by the Government of Canada and other partners, recently awarded 99,340 CAD to an NGO in Bangladesh, MOMODa Foundation, to test such an innovation. Dr Shonchoy and Wahhaj are serving as scientific advisors on the project. The findings will help understand whether and how strengthening the presence of formal institutions can impact upon the lives of adolescent girls in traditional societies.

Project Description

Project Objectives:

  • Increase 50% birth registration of unmarried adolescent girls in treatment communities;
  • Increase 75% awareness of a national helpline for reporting child marriage cases among guardians in treatment communities;
  • A lower child marriage rate (specifically marriage below the age of 18) in the treatment communities compared to the control communities at endline by 30%.


Project Interventions:

  1. Covering the cost of birth registration at 60 communities households with unmarried adolescent girls from UP/local government centers;
  1.  Providing information on the Bangladesh government’s national helpline (333) for reporting potential child marriage cases 60 communities;
  1. Covering the cost of birth registration and provides information on the national helpline  at 60 communities;
  1. 60 communities that serve as a control group;