Building the Future: Investing in Early Childhood Development

Investing in Early Childhood
At the World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings, nine countries committed to investing in early childhood needs and reduce malnutrition in developing countries.

All the countries in question are dedicated to funneling new resources into the early years of children. The hope is that by doing so, they will live longer, healthier lives and learn important tools and skills that will help them grow into well-adjusted, productive adults.

“Poor nutrition, few opportunities for early learning and stimulation, and toxic environments literally hardwire young children to miss out on opportunities to learn and later to earn good wages,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group.

According to UNICEF, children in poor environments are far more likely to experience stunted growth when compared to their richer counterparts. This is in part due to lack of access to proper nutrition, which can have negative effects on growth and development.

For instance, a recent study by The Lancet has noted that 66 percent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa suffer from poverty and stunting. In South Asia, 65 percent of children are at risk of stunting which is an irreversible condition that hampers the physical and cognitive growth of children.

Organizations such as Save the Children have been working diligently to combat the issue. They have implemented School Health and Nutrition programs, which increase access to health and nutrition services in schools, such as micronutrient supplementation and vision and hearing screening.

Improving nutrition in developing countries is also one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Both programs recognize the importance of improving nutrition in developing countries to better foster appropriate physical and cognitive development in children.

By promoting healthy life behaviors, increasing access to sustainable agriculture and improving skills-based education, these institutions hope to make stunting due to child malnutrition a thing of the past.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr