The World Bank announced today a new grant of US$9 million to improve Palestinian early childhood development. The project will expand coverage and quality of services for Palestinian children from gestation until age five.
The 2018 Human Capital Index (HCI) indicates that a Palestinian child born today will only be 55 percent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health. While the West Bank and Gaza’s HCI is lower than the average for its region but still higher than the average for its income group.
“Healthy development in the early years is at the heart of children’s potential to develop and wellbeing throughout their lives,” said Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza. “This project groups parents, teachers, policymakers, and others to improve life outcomes for both the child and the surrounding community and is adaptable to fragile and conflict-affected areas with larger focus on psychosocial support and mechanisms to cope with stress.”
Despite the lack of substantial financial support in the sector, the Palestinian Authority has demonstrated a strong commitment to invest in early childhood development. The project will introduce effective interventions to support prenatal care for pregnant women, adequate child nutrition and growth monitoring, as well as early learning opportunities that are crucial to a Palestinian child’s development.
The project will tackle the challenges of lack of equipment needed for an early identification of health risks during pregnancy and first years of life. It will develop parental practices aligned with best practices for healthy child development and work to increase access to high-quality kindergarten services.
An important component is the collection of data across ministries to allow informative decisions in planning and policymaking for all children’s early developmental needs, especially for the most vulnerable ones.
“Supporting the development of Palestinian children in their early years lays the foundation for the achievement of a child’s full growth and development potential through the school years and beyond.
The project is even more important in the Palestinian context as it leads to significant returns in the accumulation of subsequent human capital, labor market outcomes, health outcomes, and positive social behavior,” said Samira Hillis, Program Leader for Human Development.