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Inclusive Early Childhood Development - An Underestimated Building Block of Poverty Reduction

From 3rd to 4th February 2011, bezev, Caritas international, Kindernothilfe and the Kindermissionswerk 'Die Sternsinger' organised the international conference 'Inclusive Early Childhood Development - An Underestimated Building Block of Poverty Reduction', which took place at the Gustav Stresemann Institute in Bonn. In workshops and presentations, more than 90 participants addressed the importance of early childhood development for human development and poverty reduction and discussed how the field of early childhood development can be strengthened in development cooperation.

Investments in the first years of life - especially at the sensitive age of 0 to 3 years - have a greater impact on a person's mental and physical development than in later years of life. This is particularly true for developing countries. This is why investments in early childhood development are particularly efficient from an economic perspective, explained Emiliana Vegas of the World Bank. Early childhood development therefore plays a key role in the development potential of societies. It contributes decisively to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of poverty reduction as well as the development goals of health and education.

Even during pregnancy, inadequate nutrition can have long-term negative consequences for the child. Iodine deficiency, for example, can lead to mental retardation in the child. The costs of appropriate measures are often low. For example, the regular intake of vitamin A can reduce child mortality in many countries by up to 23 %, Dr. Sous from 'German Doctors for Developing Countries' illustrated. However, appropriate measures should not only focus on health and education, but also strengthen children's self-confidence. This is especially true for children with disabilities: "We should look at the child's abilities and not at what the child cannot do," said Usha Ramakrishnan, an Indian expert on inclusive early childhood development. It is important to make all measures for early childhood development inclusive, i.e. to involve children with disabilities from the very beginning.

In the concluding panel discussion, Guido Falkenberg (Kindernothilfe) self-critically stated that German non-governmental organisations are not yet sufficiently aware of the importance of early childhood development. In some areas, convincing is still necessary.
Many participants also emphasised the desire for more intensive networking of community-based and rights-based development cooperation on the ground, which is particularly necessary with regard to early childhood development.

Further information:

Presentations by the Speakers