EVERY MARK INVESTED IN EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT IN BIH TO HAVE MULTIPLE RETURN

22 May 2023
EVERY MARK INVESTED IN EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT IN BIH TO HAVE MULTIPLE RETURN
UNICEF/Omerbegović

Sarajevo, 22.05.2023. – The results of the investment cases, that UNICEF BiH, conducted with the support of the Joint SDG Fund and together with the UN Country Team in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the past fifteen months. 

 Three Investment Cases in Early Childhood Development (ECD) were conducted at the level of the three administrative units: Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska and Brcko District. Each report covers the three sectors crucial to ECD – health and nutrition, education, and social protection. Further, the Investment Cases have been complemented with two in-depth Feasibility Studies focusing on scaling up early childhood education at local level. 

BiH is faced with a rapidly ageing and shrinking population, which presents a concerted threat to economic and social development. Over the past fifteen years, progress has been made towards a conducive policy environment for ECD. However, there are clear untapped opportunities to invest in BiH’s younger generations.  

The Investment Cases in FBiH, RS and BD are based on a series of cost-benefit and cost-of-inaction analyses of the services for children aged 0 to 6 in each of the three sectors.  

The findings are striking and one-of-a-kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and provide a very compelling case for investing in social services for children. The projected socio-economic benefits of scaling up interventions in BiH are expected to far outweigh costs in all the administrative units, sectors and scenarios analyzed.  

A failure to invest in young children should be positioned as having the potential to undermine other investments: without a well-educated, healthy and productive workforce, economic development will be stilted.  In the context of pressing demographic challenges, the impetus for BiH to scale-up services for its young children is now more important than ever. 

Here is how the numbers look like: 

Scaling up essential health and nutrition services is projected to prevent an additional 10 child deaths each year in FBiH, 4 in RS and 6 in BD, giving each child (and their family) the opportunity to grow up and reach their full potential.   

This means that every 1 BAM invested is expected to yield up to 5 BAM in FBiH, 4 BAM in RS, and 3 BAM in BD in socio-economic benefits over a thirty-year period. 
The cost-of-inaction could reach up to 280 million BAM in FBiH, 103 million BAM in RS, and 3.9 million BAM in BD.  

Improving coverage of ECEC is expected to increase years of school for children, and female labour market participation. Over the next thirty years, the monetised socio-economic benefits of additional years of schooling could be worth up to 20.9 billion BAM in FBiH, 10.9 billion in RS, and 722 million in BD. The monetary impact of increased female labour market participation is estimated to reach 323 million BAM in FBiH, and 171 million in RS, and 11 million in BD. 

Investments in ECEC have a strong, positive return: for every 1 BAM invested, 6.9 BAM would be returned in FBiH, 6.7 BAM in RS, and 5.9 in BD within the next thirty years. 
Conversely, failing to invest could cost FBiH over 18 billion BAM, 9.4 billion BAM in RS, and 608 million BAM in BD. 

Finally, improving the coverage of child allowance would lift children out of poverty and significantly reduce inequality through a direct distributional effect. Every 1 BAM invested in scaling up child allowances would return up to 6.5 BAM in FBiH, 6.7 BAM in RS, and 6.9 BAM in BD in socio-economic benefits over the next thirty years. 
The cost of not investing could reach up to 5 billion BAM in the FBiH, 2.2. billion BAM in RS, and 138 million in BD. 

Based on the evidence and arguments obtained, Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, addressed the decision makers with a strong appeal: 


“The ambition of the Investment Cases and Feasibility Studies is to serve as tools to guide and support decision-makers in planning informed investments for the design and expansion of quality and inclusive ECD services in BiH and, ultimately, to achieve improved outcomes for children.   But these tools are not enough, we need your engagement. It is important to actively advocate for their usage and to raise awareness about the potential impacts of investing in early childhood, as well as the costs of not investing. It is now crucial to engage with all key stakeholders, including policy makers, practitioners, development partners and the private sector, to ensure we fully harness the potential of the empirical evidence supporting early childhood investments in BiH, and the benefits resulting from the provision of quality interventions. It is only together that these messages can be amplified, and additional resources for children can be secured.” 

 

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Media contacts

Nineta Popovic
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tel: +387 33 293 600

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