The children

Early years

Primary school year



Early years

A mother breastfeeding her baby  seated on the steps of their house, in the region of Iklim El Teffah in southern Lebanon.
© UNICEF/Lebanon/1993/Toutounji
A mother breastfeeds the youngest of her two child seated on the steps of their house, in the region of Iklim El Teffah in southern Lebanon.

Reducing infant and under-five mortality rates is key to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

In Lebanon, the infant mortality rate is estimated at 8 per thousand, while the under-five mortality rate is at 9 per thousand.

Birth Registration: a basic right 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states that every child has the right to a name and a nationality and the right to protection from being deprived of his or her identity.  In Lebanon, there are no significant variations in birth registration across sex, age, or educational level.

Importance of breastfeeding 

Breastfeeding for the first two years of life protects children from infection, provides an ideal source of nutrients, and is economical and safe. However, many mothers stop breastfeeding too soon. Social pressure to switch to infant formula can contribute to growth problems and malnutrition, and can be unsafe if clean water is not readily available. 

 The World Fit for Children global agenda states that children should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and should continue to be breastfed with complementary feeding for up to 2 years of age.

In Lebanon, approximately 15 per cent of children under-six months are exclusively breastfed, a level considerably lower than recommended. Between six and nine months, 42 per cent of children are receiving breast milk as well as solid or semi-solid foods. Even at the earliest ages, the majority of children are receiving liquids or foods other than breast milk. By the end of the sixth month, the percentage of children exclusively breastfed is only 1.5 per cent.

Did you know this about Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD)?

Did you know that IDD is the world’s leading cause of preventable mental retardation and impaired psycho-motor development in young children? It also increases the risks of stillbirth and miscarriage in pregnant women. Latest figures show that in Lebanon, a very small percentage of households (1.9%) had no salt available, while 70.7% of households consume enough iodine.

Birth Weight - an important indicator 

In Lebanon, approximately 11.5 per cent of infants weigh less than 2500 grams at birth. Weight at birth is an important indicator of a mother's health and the newborn's chances for survival, growth, long-term health and psychosocial development. Low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams) carries a range of grave health risks for children.

Saving lives through immunization

Worldwide, there are still 27 million children overlooked by routine immunization, and as a result vaccine-preventable diseases cause more than 2 million deaths every year. A World Fit for Children goal is to ensure full immunization of 90 per cent of children under one nationally, with a minimum coverage of 80 per cent in every region.

In Lebanon, immunization programs have saved the lives of millions of children in the three decades since the launch of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) in 1974.  

Supporting Early Childhood Development (ECD)

A period of rapid brain development occurs in the first 3-4 years of life and quality of home care is the major determinant of a child’s development during this period. In this context, adult activities with children, the presence of books at home for children, and the conditions of care are important indicators of quality of home care.

The UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (
MICS 2009)  on data regarding child health, nutrition, education, child protection and other indicators of child well-being, highlights a number of activities that support early learning involving adults: reading books or looking at picture-books, telling stories, singing songs, taking children outside the home, compound or yard, playing.

The survey shows gender differentials in adult activities with children for example the number of adult activities with female children was higher than those with male children. Substantial differences appear among the various regions for example, 80 per cent of adults engage in activities with children in the Mount Lebanon area, whilst only 33 per cent do so in the Districts of Akkar and Minieh - Dinnieh.

Why pre-school education is important 

Pre-school education is important because it gives children practical and mental skills useful in formal education. Only 62 per cent of children between three and five years old are attending pre-school. There is however a good gender balance: 63.2 per cent of girls and 60.4% of boys. On the other hand, there are significant differences between regions; varying between almost 80 per cent in Mount Lebanon to only 57.5 per cent in the Districts of Akkar and Minieh - Dinnieh.

 For more information, please consult the Central Administration of Statistics website.



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