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close this bookThe Condition of Young Children in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Convergence of Health, Nutrition, and Early Education (WB, 1996, 64 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentAbstract
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentAbbreviations
View the documentExecutive summary
Open this folder and view contents1. Socioeconomic indicators and trends affecting child survival and development
Open this folder and view contents2. The status of children In sub-Saharan Africa
View the documentAnnex 1: A list of sub-saharan African countries
View the documentAnnex 2: Key social sector indicators for child welfare
View the documentBibliography
View the documentAfrica technical department papers
View the documentRecent world bank technical papers


Of the world's two billion young children below the age of 14, about 12 percent are from the 47 countries that comprise the Sub-Saharan region of Africa (SSA). However, of the 40,000 children that die everyday in the world, nearly 30 percent are African. The burden of debt, economic mismanagement and recession, civil strife, pandemic disease, and natural calamities have combined to weaken the resource base for investing in Africa's children. How does the condition of African children fare compared with children in other parts of the world? What is happening to them in terms of survival, health, nutrition, and early childhood development? What can be done to improve their condition?

The Africa Region has been working closely with UNICEF, the Aga Khan Foundation, the Van Leer Foundation, Save the Children, USAID, the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Education, and other partners to promote the development of the young African child through comprehensive sector approaches in health, nutrition, and education.

This study draws attention to the plight of the African child, particularly the much-neglected period between birth/infancy and primary school entry (or early childhood), by first describing the broad socioeconomic and demographic trends over the last decade on the African continent, then by examining the current condition of the young African child as shaped by these trends. Moving beyond the overview, it proceeds to summarize current thinking on how early childhood development (ECD) programs might contribute to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty on the African continent. It emphasizes that timely intervention is crucial in this regard.

The Africa ECD Initiative entails a three-pronged strategy of: (a) knowledge generation and dissemination; (b) prototype program development; and (c) capacity building. This study is the first in a series of products from the Africa Regional Early Childhood Development Initiative. A second study on the overall ECD policy and programmatic effort (government and non-governmental) in Africa is currently under preparation. Country case studies are also under way in South Africa, Kenya, and Mauritius, where a rich array of alternative delivery systems, financing schemes, and quality enhancement programs are being tested. In the capacity building arena, an African ECD Network comprising practitioners and policymakers representing some 21 countries has been formed and is seeking formal recognition as a Working Group within the Association for the Development of African Education (DAE).

Kevin Cleaver
Director Technical Department Africa Region