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Bolivia will implement a model program for early childhood development

A $20 million IDB loan will promote cognitive development, socio-emotional and physical development of children under 4 years old

Bolivia will implement a model program for early childhood development to improve access and quality of care for more than 25,000 children under 4 years old, with a $20 million loan approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Although it is still among the lowest-income countries in Latin America, Bolivia is substantially increasing its investment in programs to reduce poverty and inequality, and has been expanding access to social services for vulnerable segments of the population. By supporting the expansion of early childhood development programs, Bolivia seeks to eliminate one of the causes of the inter-generational transmission of poverty and develop human capital at a stage in life when such interventions are very cost-effective.

"Strengthening health programs, nutrition, early stimulation and counseling of parents during early childhood not only yields better results than at any later stage of life,” said Julia Johannsen, the IDB project team leader. “It is also an investment in the country's future."

The program will contribute in a sustainable and culturally relevant way to cognitive, socio-emotional and physical development of children in Bolivia. By 2017, it is expected to enable at least 25,000 children to be covered by early childhood development services in high poverty areas including Padilla, Azurduy and Camargo in Chuquisaca, Uyuni, Uncía, Tupiza and Ocurí in Potosí, as well as the departmental capitals of Sucre and Potosí.

The program will focus on the health sector, with emphasis on attention in 90 child development centers with an estimated coverage of up to 3,060 children. It will also set up to 60 early stimulation rooms with a capacity to assist up to 9,000 children with development delays. A third line of operation consists of home visits and community-based activities based on improved “Complete Attention of Prevalent Illnesses and Infant Nutrition” program protocols. These will cover at least 7,200 infants and will include working with parents and care takers. Finally, the program will also support a departmental system performance monitoring system and a municipal fund to complement the program with local initiatives.

With these interventions, the program will strengthen and complement existing and planned health and nutrition services, targeting the same age group. The activities to be financed by the program include the development of quality standards and protocols, the certification of personnel in early childhood stimulation, infrastructure improvements and equipment, and strengthening management capacity and monitoring, among others.

The financing consists of a loan from the IDB’s ordinary capital for $15 million with a 30-year term, a grace period of 6 years and an interest rate based on LIBOR, plus a loan for $5 million from the Fund for Special Operations with a 40-year term, a grace period of 40 years and an annual interest rate of 0.25 percent. Bolivia will contribute $2 million in local counterpart funds.