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With two of her five grandchildren, all of whom have been orphaned by AIDS, a grandmother receives counselling in medicines at a centre run by Faraja Trust, a national NGO, in Morogoro, Tanzania.

Breaking the cycles

To break these cycles of poverty, violence and disease, interventions must come early in life, the earlier the better. ECD is the key to a full and productive life for a child and to progress for a nation. In much the way that democracy is prelude to human development, healthy children — healthy in the total sense of the word — are basic to a country’s development. The cumulative weight of the disparities perpetuated within a country destabilizes that country itself, even when it is seemingly strong. And inequities within any one country upset the balance among nations: Poor, malnourished and unhealthy children make for poor and powerless States that are then at the mercy of stronger States. As the lives of young children are short-changed, so the fortunes of countries are lost.

By investing in children in their early years of life, a country serves not only a child and a family but also the cause of sustainable development. Investing in children is among the most far-sighted decisions leaders can make.

Hunger, disease and ignorance have never been a foundation for sustained economic growth, democracy or the respect for human rights. Giving all children a good start in life helps weed out the blights choking human development. What is needed now is a renewed commitment to the rights of the child, a vision of how the world can be for children and the courage to do whatever it takes to unravel the ropes that bind generations to misery.


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