WASHINGTON, February 22, 2019--The Board of the World Bank today approved an International Development Association (IDA)* grant of $50 million to support the government of Benin’s efforts to reduce stunting and improve early childhood development outcomes in children under five years of age.
The five-year Early Years Nutrition and Child Development Project (EYNCDP) is the first of a series of three operations aimed at improving the delivery of selected health and nutrition interventions throughout the country. This first project which focuses on 48 communes of the country integrates early stimulation, parenting education and early learning to promote on-track early child development. It also supports primary school feeding programs in 12 communes, and includes support to improve policy and multisectoral coordination, decentralized leadership and management across all the 77 communes of the country.
« The benefits of investments in life’s early years is crucial because of its unique opportunities that can improve the country’s Human Capital Index. Recent evidence has shown that the return on investments of programs targeting the early years is very high. Due to the long-lasting and far-reaching benefits, investments in the early years can break intergenerational transmission of poverty, boost shared prosperity, and promote equity », said Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Benin.
Benin has made some progress on child health, but child malnutrition remains a major impediment to ensuring optimal formation of human capital in the country, and one of the key markers of poverty and vulnerability. “The Government of Benin has already shown enhanced leadership in nutrition and developed an innovative approach of community-based action for improved nutrition during the first 1,000 days. The new EYNCDP builds on these commitment and achievements by strengthening a more holistic approach to early child nutrition and development”, said Katrina Sharkey, World Bank Country Manager for Benin.
The new EYNCDP fits well with Benin’s eight-year National Development Plan- 2018-2025, most specifically on its strategic objective for human capital development, by bringing together multisectoral actions to develop human capital and decentralized public services through early child nutrition, learning and development. It also aligns with the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework for Benin - 2018-2023, and directly relates to the institution’s Human Capital Project which aims to enhance investment in people through nutrition, health care, quality education, jobs and skills, which are key to ending extreme poverty and creating more inclusive societies.
The proposed series of projects will contribute to results in decentralized governance and women’s economic empowerment which are central to the country’s development outcomes. While the first will help develop, integrate and effectively deliver the services in terms of the continuum of care of children, the second will expand access to services to all 77 communes and strengthen the decentralized system to ensure a minimal package of services. As for the third one, it will reinforce results and support the consolidation of institutional capacities and achievements to sustain a system to deliver decentralized services throughout the country.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.