COVID-19 and the Early Years : A Cross-Country Overview of Impact and Response in Early Childhood Development

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on, young children across the globe are at risk of a developmental catastrophe. With many unable to start or continue school, missing crucial health appointments, suffering from lack of food and experiencing heightened levels of violence and neglect, governments need to act swiftly in order to mitigate the increasingly dire situation for global early childhood development. This report is based on a survey conducted in 26 low, and middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Latin America, South Asia and Europe during the month of October 2020. The report highlights the impacts and responses of the COVID-19 crisis on a population who is at risk of becoming the forgotten victims of the pandemic: young children under eight. Focusing on education, health, nutrition and social protection, the report unpacks the inequities and vulnerabilities that could undermine children from reaching their full potential. The ultimate intent of this work is to present compelling evidence for decision-makers to undertake immediate and urgent action to protect and strengthen early childhood development if we are to avoid permanent damage to our shared future.