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PRESS RELEASE April 23, 2019

Marshall Islands Launches Early Childhood Development Project

Government-led, World Bank supported program to address
health and early learning in RMI

MAJURO, April 23, 2019 – Today the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the World Bank launched a US$13 million Multisectoral Early Childhood Development Project in Majuro.

The project will support 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.

“By investing in our children and ensuring they are afforded the best opportunities to learn and thrive, we are ensuring a sustainable and rich future for the Republic of the Marshall Islands,” said Marshall Islands President H.E. Dr. Hilda Heine. “As a former educator, I have seen firsthand what good, early investments in a child’s future can mean so I am very pleased to see this project launched today, and this is just one part of a more holistic wide-spread early childhood development program in Marshall Islands,” President Heine added.

Poor nutrition and a lack of early learning opportunities have posed major obstacles for some Marshallese children which has had a detrimental effect on the country’s development. The new program will address this by focusing on:

  • 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.

Over 300 kindergarten and early school years children were at the event at Majuro’s Delap Park with booths and participation from the Implementing agencies, the Ministry of Culture and Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Training, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health and Human Services and the Office of the Chief Secretary of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“We are thrilled to officially launch the Early Childhood Development Project here today, which came from a direct request from the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. While technical assessments and planning are required before wider activities begin –the investment in the health and education of Marshallese children will contribute to a brighter future for the country. This is also representative of an increasing focus on health, nutrition and education support as a wider economic imperative for more sustainable futures for Pacific economies,” said the World Bank’s Aparnaa Somanathan, the team leader of the project speaking at the event.

The project represents a wider focus on human capital throughout the Pacific. Next month, Ministers of Finance from around the Pacific region will meet in Fiji for a Human Capital Summit led by the World Bank.

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).


Sydney:            Hamish Wyatt, +61 450 517 534,

Washington:      Marcela Sanchez-Bender, +1 (202) 473-5863,