PRIORITY INVESTMENT AREAS
Early Childhood Development
The first five years of a child’s life are a critically important period of cognitive and emotional development. Under the right conditions, that period sets a foundation for children to grow into healthy, educated, and productive adults. Yet an estimated 250 million children in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their potential because extreme poverty restricts their access during early childhood to adequate nutrition, quality healthcare, and other aspects of nurturing care.1
Effective interventions to support early childhood development begin as early as possible (and as early as pregnancy), they take a multi-sectoral approach, and they target not only children but also caregivers.2,3,4 These interventions include nutritional supplementation, health actions such as immunization and vaccination, and training for caregivers on behaviors that promote child health and practices that foster psychosocial development.5
Early childhood is the period of life when poverty alleviation investments are most efficient and most cost-effective.6 Successful interventions during this period can result in a wide range of improved life outcomes, including higher test scores, higher educational attainment, and higher wages.6,3 In the long term, moreover, investing in children and their caregivers at this stage of life can help to end intergenerational poverty.7
- Maureen Black, et al. “Early Childhood Development Coming of Age: Science Through the Life Course.” The Lancet, vol. 389, January 2017, pp. 77-90.
- Sally Grantham-McGregor, et al. “Developmental Potential in the First 5 years for Children in Developing Countries.” The Lancet, vol. 369, 2007, pp. 60-70.
- Paul Gertler, et al. “Labor Market Returns to an Early Childhood Stimulation Intervention in Jamaica.” Science, vol. 344, no. 6187, 2014, pp. 998-1001.
- Orazio Attanasio, et al. “The Impact of Cognitive Stimulation and Nutritional Supplements on Early Childhood Development in Colombia.” Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, March 2016.
- Pia Britto, et al. “Nurturing Care: Promoting Early Childhood Development.” The Lancet, vol. 389, 2017, pp. 91-102.
- C. Kagitcibasi, et al. “Continuing Effects of Early Enrichment in Adult Life: The Turkish Early Enrichment Project 22 Years Later.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, vol. 30, 2009, pp. 764-779.
- Patrice Engle, et al. “Strategies for Reducing Inequalities and Improving Developmental Outcomes for Young Dhildren in Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries.” The Lancet, vol. 378, 2011, pp. 1339-53.