Summary: This evidence into action brief summarises the state of research on the topic of urban air pollution in low- and middle-income countries and its impacts on children, and proposes ideas for action. Air pollution is a major global health challenge to which children are particularly vulnerable. In this briefing, the authors summarise the literature on this topic, focusing on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). There are indoor and outdoor sources of air pollution and these pollutants can remain in the local area or be transported vast distances. Therefore, to reduce air pollution emissions and exposure to pollution, action is needed at local, national and international levels. In many cases, these actions can contribute to achieving multiple other sustainable development goals, including climate change mitigation. An integrated approach to action is needed, involving collaboration with community members, planners and policymakers.
• Invest in regulatory air pollution monitoring stations and provide training on data management and how to interpret the data. This will highlight the extent of pollution in places where monitoring is lacking.
• Support the development of air quality management systems (including air-quality regulations and standards on emissions) to monitor and reduce air pollution, particularly in urban areas.
• Develop citizen science monitoring programmes to fill the gaps in monitoring. Scientists and community members should work together to answer scientific questions, collect data and co-design awareness-raising campaigns at community level.
• Work with governments to integrate air pollution into climate change targets. Many sources of greenhouse gases are also sources of air pollutants. LMICS can increase their mitigation ambitions, meet international targets and achieve local development benefits through improved air quality.
Highlights: Nutritious food in the earliest years of life is the cornerstone of a child’s development. Yet 2 in 3 children between the ages of 6 months to two years are not getting the nutritious diets they need to grow well.
For the first time, UNICEF’s flagship report examines the latest data and evidence on the status, trends and inequities in the diets of young children aged 6–23 months, and the barriers to nutritious, safe and age-appropriate diets.
New analysis presented in the global report shows that the world is failing to feed children well during the time in their lives when it matters most – before two years of age. It draws on a range of evidence sources, including regional analyses and real-life experiences of mothers across different countries, to highlight the most salient barriers to good diets for young children. The report outlines key actions for decision makers to make nutritious diets a reality for every child.
The brief is also available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic. For more information and resources, please visit: https://www.unicef.org/reports/fed-to-fail-child-nutrition
Promoting Men’s Engagement in Early Childhood Development: A Programming and Influencing Package includes resources developed for programmes that aim to increase male engagement in nurturing care and early childhood development (ECD), as well as in maternal health and wellbeing. Guidance is provided on how to work with men directly to promote their involvement in the nurturing care, learning and education of their young children. Considerations for working with healthcare providers and community health workers and with communities and leaders is included, as well as tools and templates on policy influencing and social and behaviour change communication campaigns in favour of men’s engagement.
The document is part of Plan International’s commitment to gender transformative Early Childhood Development work. For more information about the package, click this link: https://plan-international.org/publications/promoting-mens-engagement-early-childhood-development. To find out about training opportunities to support men’s engagement in ECD, please contact Plan International at ECD@plan-international.org.
Early childhood starting from conception, especially in the first 1,000 days of life, is a period when 90 per cent of brain development takes place. At this crucial time, young children need nurturing care – good health, adequate nutrition, responsive caregiving, early learning and stimulation, physical and emotional security and safety. This early moments in life offer a window of opportunity to boost children’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social development – influencing their readiness to learn in school, to solve problems, to relate to others, and overall mental health and well-being. This ultimately has a significant impact on their adult lives, affecting their ability to earn a living and contribute to their societies.
COVID-19 threatens this precious opportunity for children in early childhood to develop healthy brains and lives through the disruption of essential health and nutrition services, the suspension of opportunities for early learning, the stress and burden on families and parenting, increased protection risks, and the severe negative impact on families’ household economies.
Using the latest available evidence, this report summarizes the impact of the pandemic on services essential for young children’s development: For example, that the number of children younger than 5 years visiting community health centres in Viet Nam dropped by 48 per cent; that in Indonesia, more than 50 per cent of households reported not being able to meet their family’s nutritional needs; or that in the Philippines, more than 80 per cent of households experienced a decrease in their household income. Households facing disadvantages before COVID-19 – those with young children, those living in rural and remote areas and low-income households – are in most cases more disproportionally affected by the pandemic.
For a copy of the case study, please visit: https://www.unicef.org/eap/young-children-and-pandemic