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PRESS RELEASE February 28, 2019

Boosting Early Childhood Development in the Marshall Islands

World Bank commits US$13m to address stunting, malnutrition and to promote early learning

WASHINGTON, February 28, 2019 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a US$13 million Multisectoral Early Childhood Development Project in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The project aims to address some of Marshall Islands’ most pressing challenges in early childhood development services across multiple sectors.

The project was requested by Marshall Islands’ President, H.E. Dr. Hilda Heine, to support Early Childhood Development in areas such as reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition services, with a focus on the first 1,000 days of life. The project also aims to promote primary school readiness by enhancing support to parents and increasing access to early learning services.

Some Marshallese children face major challenges that undermine their opportunities to learn, earn, innovate and compete, which has a detrimental effect on the country’s development. In 2017, the UNICEF Integrated Child Health and Nutrition Survey found that 35 percent of Marshallese children under the age of five suffer from stunting, a critical indicator of chronic malnutrition.

“To have a bright future, our citizens must be healthy and educated. I look forward to our partnership with the World Bank  focused on investing in our children to increase their ability to learn and thrive into adulthood,” said Marshall Islands’ President, H.E. Dr. Hilda Heine.

The project will improve children’s development in Marshall Islands by:

  • increasing access to effective and quality maternal and child health services;
  • creating opportunities for early stimulation and learning;
  • piloting a social protection system and support for families with young children; and
  • addressing the limited affordability of nutritious diets, especially for children in vulnerable families.

“Malnutrition and stunting at an early age adversely impact children for the rest of their lives,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “Investments in human capital are critically important and we are proud to deepen our strong partnership with Marshall Islands through this project to secure the health and prosperity of the next generation.”

The project is funded through a US$13 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries, in partnership with the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


Hamish Wyatt
Marcela Sanchez-Bender
+1 (202) 473-5863