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Early Childhood

Western and Central Africa

© UNICEF/Nigeria/Rich
Held by her aunt, 7-month-old Hadiza eats from a sachet of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF),in Kano State.

West and Central African Resources on and about the CCD Package

The babies and young children of West and Central Africa continue to be dramatically affected by severe malnutrition. Wasting affects 11.4 percent of children under five years, afflicting more than 1 million children in the Sahel (including Nigeria). Continued high levels of stunting, alongside persistent poverty and rising inequality, are manifestations of the highly unequal and exclusionary development processes that have left the majority of people and children behind.

Neuroscience and evidenced-based development confirm the extraordinary window of opportunity for brain development during early childhood. Nutrition-specific interventions alone do not guarantee optimal child development. The UNICEF Regional Office supports awareness raising and capacity building on the use of Care for Child Development.

The 2013 Food and Nutrition crisis in the Sahel called for increased coordination among social development sectors, as well as long-term capacity building initiatives. UNICEF WCARO, drawing from ECD and Child Protection experiences with the CCD training, developed short, adapted training modules on young children stimulation and support to the caregivers. These are included in the regional nutrition training protocol.

The aim is to ensure systematic inclusion of stimulation and caregivers support in the national trainings, contributing to a longer-term impact on caregiving practices especially for malnourished children. In the meanwhile, complete CCD package trainings are supported in requesting countries for a refinement of skills of frontline workers across a variety of contexts in the region.

Example from the Field

Chronic malnutrition – or stunting – is a significant problem in Mali. The rates of chronic malnutrition vary greatly between regions and over time, but according to the latest surveys, the rate of stunting appears stable around 28% of children under 5, which places Mali in a “poor” situation according to WHO thresholds. Some areas, such as the region of Sikasso consistently show “serious” to “critical” levels. Malnutrition in Mali is linked to multidimensional causes, including chronic food insecurity, lack of access to quality health care, inadequate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices, poor maternal nutrition, high prevalence of childhood illnesses, poor hygiene and lack of sanitation. In 2014, a Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA) was conducted at the national level, and found that among children 0-23 months of age, an estimated 82% are deprived in nutrition, the highest deprivation of all sectors analysed (health, child protection, water, sanitation, housing, etc.)

The rise in malnutrition combined with the number of children out of school demonstrated the need to change the developmental trajectory of the affected children. UNICEF, Handicap International (HI) & BØRNEfonden implemented CCD in Mall to re-frame of the relationship between parents and their very young children, to strengthen the concept of holistic development through cognitive, motor and psychosocial stimulation, and better feeding practices.

Enthusiasm ran high for implementing partners and participating families. There was observable change into children’s play after the scheduled visits. However, there was only limited evidence of changes in other parenting practices. As the initiative develops larger scale delivery mechanisms, the process of reflection and contextualization will be strengthened to increase the sustainability and effectiveness of the learning.

2014, a Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA)




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