Nine countries have pledged to make investments that would reduce childhood stunting and equip tens of millions of young children with the abilities they need to succeed in a fast changing world. The countries are Madagascar, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun, Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania. Others are Pakistan, Indonesia and Guatemala. The commitments are expected to help create future economic growth by preparing people – in the early years for the jobs of the future.
Worldwide, 156 million children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition and only half of all three- to six-year-olds have access to preschool. According to a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the number of child refugees has risen 77 percent in five years. A recent Lancet report also revealed that in sub-Saharan Africa, 66% of children are estimated to be at risk of poor development due to stunting and poverty, while the share is 65% in South Asia.
The situation grows critical as an increasingly digital global economy places a large premium on the ability to reason, learn, communicate and collaborate. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, says poor nutrition, few opportunities for early learning and stimulation, and toxic environments literally are major reasons young children miss opportunities to learn and earn good wages in the labour market. Kim believes that the world can avert future crises where people and economies will not reach their full potential if Heads of Government and Ministers of Finance would commit themselves to fight stunted development and nurture the power of children’s brains.
Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire enjoins world leaders to guarantee universal access to essential services for the development of young children. He notes that Cote d’Ivoire had in May; this year launched the National Multi-sector Plan for Nutrition which will mobilize $470 million to scale up investments in nutrition.
By Dike Onwuamaeze