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Aid gives a major boost to child well-being: ODI report

Dhaka, 17 April 2012: "Progress in Child Well-Being”– a report commissioned from the  Overseas Development Institute (ODI) by Save the Children and UNICEF shows that aid is a key factor in improving children's well-being across the world. Pointing outthat economic growth and good government also help to improve their chances of survival, it says annually four million children are living beyond their fifth birthday than in 1990.

It analyses the improvements to children’s lives during the past two decades in five areas: health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and child protection. It also offers case studies from countries that have made significant progress in improving children’s well-being: a clear demonstration that when the right steps and approaches are adopted, ‘development works’.

The report noted that children in Bangladesh, Brazil and Vietnam have made great improvements. Identifying Bangladesh as a ‘success story’, it said the country has achieved remarkable reductions in under-five mortality, following sustained investment in child health. The report also pointed out that the education rates in Bangladesh have been critical to improvements in child health, nutrition and child protection. It also mentioned Bangladesh’s success in aligning donor support with the government’s health strategy, which allowed for a more coherent approach to financing the sector. The report also lauded Bangladesh for its increased government commitments, which have been facilitated by concurrent economic growth.

The salient findings of the report are as follows:

• In the decade to 2009, 56 million more children worldwide were going to school than previously
• In sub-Saharan Africa, the countries which received the most aid saw children making the most progress
• Stunted mental and physical development as a result of malnutrition dropped by more than a quarter between 1990 and 2008
• 131 countries now have immunisation coverage of more than 90% for diphtheria, tetanus and major preventable diseases such as measles, compared to 63 in 1990
• The percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day (£0.79) has fallen from 45% in 1990 to 27% in 2005, although it increased in some unstable areas such as Central Asia and the Caucasus

It identified six major influences on the improvements seen over the past two decades. These include international aid; commitment and leadership from national governments; social investment and economic growth; well-planned programmes aimed at the most marginalised groups; and technology and innovation.

Despite significant improvements, the report, however, cautioned that the world as a whole is not on track to meet most of the child-related MDGs. The report makes a compelling case for greater investment in ‘child-sensitive’ development, and highlights the key role of overseas development assistance.

To overcome the remaining challenges in ensuring child well-being, it made the following recommendations:

• Government commitment, with the state acting where possible both as a provider and regulator of programmes and services.
• Development assistance that is focused on key priorities and aligned with and supportive of government strategies.
• Economic growth alongside ambitious, equity-based social and economic policies.
• Interventions that are integrated across different sectors and development of multi-year social protection programmes.
• Greater focus on addressing inequalities in access to services, and on extending protection to the poorest children and more impoverished communities within countries.

BBC News Report

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