Early childhood is a critical stage of human development, and policy makers need information on gaps and opportunities in programming within countries. USAID Advancing Nutrition has released country profiles for Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Rwanda, and Uganda. These profiles are the first in a series of publications that gather and present country-level data, policies, and programs focused on improving nutrition and early childhood development outcomes through the provision of nurturing care. The country profiles serve as a light touch landscape analysis compiling national data on nurturing care and early childhood development (ECD) alongside information on national policies and programs to help identify the needs and opportunities for promoting optimal child development.
The World Health Organization’s (2020) Guidelines for Improving Early Childhood Development provides useful definitions of these two terms:
- Early childhood development: Refers to the cognitive, physical, language, motor, social and emotional development between 0–8 years of age.
- Nurturing care: Characterized by a caregiving environment that is sensitive to children’s health and nutritional needs, responsive, emotionally supportive, and developmentally stimulating and appropriate, with opportunities for play and exploration and protection from adversities.
Because global indicators on responsive caregiving are currently under development, these country profiles currently present secondary data for only four of the five domains of nurturing care: nutrition, safety and security, health, and early learning. Compiled data in these four sectors portrays a holistic view of the current status of ECD for children from birth to three in these countries, and the inclusion of existing policies and programs provides further insight into the breadth of country-level efforts to work across sectors to improve ECD outcomes.
These publications draw on data from existing Nurturing Care Country Profiles – high-quality resources that present data and key policies for nearly every country in the world – and complement these excellent resources by including more information on country-specific policies and programming using visually appealing infographics and brief descriptions.