Giving up too early on malnourished children? Catch-up growth and Midday Meals in India

Abhijeet2_low-resWriting for Ideas for India this week, Young Lives research officer Abhijeet Singh summarises the evidence on the benefits of the Midday Meal Scheme in India. Findings from several studies suggest there may be some hope for correcting early nutritional deprivations which have happened during the critical 1000-day window from conception to a child’s second birthday. Prevention and remediation of malnutrition during the early years is still likely to be the most effective strategy, both in terms of costs and impact, but for children who remain malnourished beyond this critical window, some remediation might still be achievable. (more…)

WDR 2015 on ‘Mind and Culture’: an opportunity to understand decisions in context

By Paul Dornan, Senior Policy Officer

Paul_web commentThe World Bank’s annual World Development Report for 2015 has the working title of ‘mind and culture’ (helpfully, the Bank pre-releases the focal areas of the forthcoming report). A scan of the twitter-sphere suggests that it hasn’t been picked up widely yet, but where it has, the reaction seems positive. Robert Chambers at IDS emphasises the different way of thinking about development; and others welcome this recognition of the importance of context and culture.

Now the Bank is on to something important, but my instinctive reaction is to be cautious. The outline states: “poverty is best understood not only as a state of deprivation but as an environment that affects decision-making”. Remove one or two words and poverty becomes a question of behaviour and bad choices, not constrained decision-making and injustice. So while the topic is an important one, there is a fine line to walk. But there are useful contributions I hope the WDR may be able to make. (more…)

Gendered experiences of school in rural Andhra Pradesh

By Uma Vennam

IND.102Schooling is playing a pivotal role in challenging traditional expectations of children, notably around the roles of girls and boys as they make the transition through puberty and towards marriage. However, while families aspire to improve their situation by sending their children to school, they face the realistic prospect that their children’s futures may still depend on traditional roles and livelihoods. Our recent interviews with the Young Lives study children in India highlight some of the tensions between the new opportunities and expectations brought by expanded access to school with persisting social norms. (more…)

Economic change and children’s work in rural Tigray, Ethiopia

By Yisak Tafere and Nardos Chuta

5_413A2902_low-res__grinding corn1Despite the rapid expansion of formal schooling in Ethiopia, attending school does not replace the need for children to contribute to the household or farm, or do paid work, especially in contexts of poverty, weak school systems, and uncertain future opportunities. Economic pressures and social norms continue to draw children into paid and unpaid work, as well as domestic responsibilities, with formal schooling sometimes placing competing demands on children’s time. Multiple, recurrent adverse events and shocks and the persistence of poverty mean that families have to balance the need for survival in the present with the anticipated rewards of keeping children in school. We have been looking at the different factors which contribute to children working and how changing livelihood opportunities are shaping children’s roles and responsibilities in rural Ethiopia. (more…)

How increased educational aspirations are shaping children’s lives in rural Peru

4_Three Andean young people P1050896_low-resBy Emma Wilson

Increased aspirations for schooling are one of the most striking intergenerational changes among households in the Young Lives study. Across the four countries children and families view education as a route out of poverty towards a better life and improved social mobility. We have been looking at how the lives of children and their families are changing in response to the expansion of schooling and the implications for those young people who are unable to meet the expectations placed upon them. (more…)

Service expansion in a rural, ethnic minority community in Vietnam

Chopping sugarcane_croppedBy Vu Thi Thanh Huong

Where children live and how their communities are changing over time are important factors in shaping their development and experiences. In Vietnam, significant progress has been made in poverty reduction, with only one in ten people now living below the poverty line. However, the poverty rate among Vietnam’s ethnic minorities is as high as 50 per cent. Rapid changes in people’s living environment, such as the expansion of basic services, roads and communications, bring new opportunities but also risks reinforcing the social exclusion of poor and marginalised children. (more…)

Changing ways of coping during difficult times in rural Andhra Pradesh

2_IND.34 copy_croppedBy Ginny Morrow

Countries in the Young Lives study are especially vulnerable to environmental shocks. On global indicators, Ethiopia is second most at risk of drought, India the third most at risk for flooding, and Vietnam fourth for being affected by storms and tenth for flooding. Poor households tend to be located in the areas most at risk to environmental hazards and to have more precarious livelihoods and so are prone to experience the same shocks repeatedly. Recurrent shocks, combined with food insecurity, have long-term impacts on children’s development and well-being.

Children who have experienced food shortages are at additional risk of poorer outcomes in physical health, learning and subjective well-being. Governments have responded by expanding social protection schemes, to attempt to reduce poverty and to provide a safety net in the event of shocks. Our recent research highlights the impact of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) on a rural community in Andhra Pradesh. MGNREGS was introduced in 2005 and provides 100 days of employment a year at a minimum wage rate to every adult in a rural household willing to undertake unskilled manual work. (more…)

Impacts of economic change and community relocation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

1_DSC03784_Cherkos_Jan2011_low-resBy Alula Pankhurst and Agazi Tiumelissan

Children’s development and well-being are profoundly shaped by macro-economic, social and environmental processes, including economic growth or crisis, changes in social values, and expansion of social policies, and environmental shocks. In Ethiopia economic growth has been averaging around 11 per cent annually since 2003/4, with the proportion of the population living in poverty falling to around 30 per cent from around 45 per cent ten years previously. However, following the global economic crisis Ethiopia also experienced high inflation, which peaked at 64 per cent in July 2008. A recent study we carried out with one of the  Young Lives communities in Addis Ababa shows how processes of economic growth and re-development, as well as food price inflation have affected children and their families. (more…)

Changing Children’s Lives: creating an enabling environment for child development

IND140_young girls dancing_cropped_low-res

By Kirrily Pells, Young Lives Policy Officer

Rapid economic, social and technological change since the turn of the century has transformed many children’s lives, creating new opportunities but also new constraints and new risks for some. This trend is set to continue. The report of the High-Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda anticipates further changes by 2030, including ongoing economic growth, demographic change with populations ageing and growth in the world’s labour force, migration, and the continued expansion of technology. A new paper from Young Lives examines how where children live, and how their communities are changing, are important factors in shaping both the opportunities open to them and the risks they may face. (more…)

Beyond ‘zero tolerance’ of FGM: transforming traditional practices

Kirrily PellsTo mark International Day for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation, Young Lives Policy Officer Kirrily Pells, explores how efforts to end FGM in Ethiopia are faring.

The Ethiopian government has taken a strong stance against female genital mutilation so anyone who performs, commissions or publically encourages the practice can be punished with a hefty fine or prison sentence. They’ve also promoted a wide range of preventative initiatives, including advocacy campaigns in schools and the media to spread knowledge of the adverse health and social consequences. (more…)