In West and Central Africa, we seek to understand and address the root causes of social and economic inequality so that all children, particularly those who suffer the worst deprivations in society, have access to basic social services.
The Early Years
Early childhood development is an investment for life. In many countries in West and Central Africa, access to early learning and pre-school services for young children aged 3–5 is improving, but more efforts have to be made in other areas such as nutrition, child care and protection from neglect and violence.
Unfortunately, West and Central Africa is a region where young children are exposed to high levels of malnutrition and abuse. Many children are borne to teenage mothers who are often victims of child marriage themselves and do not have the capacity to raise their children with the confidence and knowledge of more mature parents.
When adults do not play with, and stimulate young children properly, or fail to give them the love and care they need, children experience stunted emotional, social, physical and cognitive growth. The role of adult caregivers is therefore crucial to ensure a stimulating and protective environment for younger children.
Numerous parental education programmes have been developed in the region but they need to be expanded to include interventions that address the daily stresses and hardships experienced by families and caregivers, as well as the harmful social norms and cultural beliefs that affect child rearing.