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UNICEF launches kit to help young children caught in emergencies

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1037/Markisz
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman launches the new Early Childhood Development Kit in Geneva. The kit targets children under six years old who are affected by emergencies.

GENEVA, 15 July 2009 - A new kit to help meet the developmental needs of young children affected by emergencies was launched in Geneva today by UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman.

“The Early Childhood Development Kit is a tool for young children displaced or affected by war and natural disasters,” said Veneman at today’s official launch in Geneva. “It is the first of its kind within the humanitarian community.”

Early childhood is the most critical period for brain development, making young children vulnerable to the stresses of war and natural disaster such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.

The need for a special emergency kit containing materials to help young children regain a sense of normalcy was identified by UNICEF staff and partners responding to emergencies.

The kit is a box containing 37 different items, for use by approximately 50 children up to six years of age. Costing $230, it makes possible a range of activities that encourage development and social interaction and promote playing, drawing, story telling and numeracy.

The materials - dominos, colouring pencils, construction blocks, hand puppets, puzzle blocks, memory games give children a sense of property, something which they own.

Before being launched, the kit was tested in seven countries - Chad, Liberia, Congo Brazzaville, Jamaica, Guyana, Maldives and Iraq.

UNICEF’s role in emergencies is to protect children and women, ensure the application of international standards covering their rights and provide them with assistance. Over the past 3 years, UNICEF has responded to 829 emergencies. An estimated 175 million children are affected by disasters every year.

The ECD kit complements UNICEF’s School-in-a-Box and Recreation kit. Developed jointly by UNICEF and UNESCO in 1994, the School-in-a-Box kit has become part of the UNICEF standard response in emergencies, used in many back-to-school operations. To date more than 600,000 School-in-a-Box kits have been sent around the world.


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Veronique Taveau, UNICEF Geneva,
Tel + 41 22 909 5716,
E-mail: vtaveau@unicef.org





15 July 2009: UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman speaks at the launch of the new Early Childhood Development Kit in Geneva.
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