Investing in Every Child’s Early Years: World Bank Contributions

October 10, 2017

At the 2016 World Bank Spring Meetings, Dr. Jim Kim declared, “providing early childhood development is both morally right and economically smart.” Dr. Kim went on to say, “For our part, the World Bank Group is committed to increasing our investments in ECD programs around the world, including in nutrition, health, early stimulation and learning, and social protection.”

18 months later, as the World Bank hosts its 2017 Annual Meetings in Washington, DC, new RESULTS research takes stock of the progress that has been made and identifies opportunities to increase the investments, reach, and impact of quality, well-rounded ECD interventions.

World Bank investments in early childhood development (ECD) have increased in recent years, alongside strong leadership from President Jim Yong Kim, and exciting initiatives housed at the World Bank such as the Global Financing Facility for Every Woman, Every Child. A report published in 2015 shows World Bank ECD investments gradually increasing over its fiscal years 2001-2013. Now, with IDA18 (FY18-20) upon us, the RESULTS research team aimed to update these figures using the World Bank’s own methodology, in order to both better understand the increased investments, and possibly set a new baseline for investments in the early years.

The team used a keyword search (including a list of 29 World Bank-selected terms) to narrow all investments from FY12-17 to a list of 644 projects that might include ECD programming. Researchers closely examined project documents for these 644 separate investments to identify whether any project components included early years programming. A two-year overlap with previous research (FY12-13) was utilized to ensure the updated figures were credible.

Findings indicate a sharp increase in these most recent years in investments in the early years, ranging from a minimum of $457 million in FY14 to a maximum of 2.096 billion in FY15, when a single investment of 500 million dollars in Nigeria was approved.

The start of IDA18, with its anticipated replenishment at 44% higher funding rates than previous rounds, comes with expanded opportunities for the World Bank to invest, in partnership with country governments, in a holistic and integrated early years agenda. In IDA17 (FY15-17), $1.1 billion dollars per fiscal year of IDA funds were invested in ECD over the three years.

Given the 44% increase in available resources for IDA18 (FY18-20), and the World Bank’s commitment to increased ECD funding, a proportional increase would result in $4.8 billion over three years from IDA.

The full report includes additional information on research methodology, case studies, and findings on the sectors and geography of investments.

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