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Anthropometric Failures: nutrition, early child interventions and emotional, and cognitive development potentials

Comments by: Antonio Giuffrida Social Programs Division - Regional Operations Department 3 IDB - PAHO Workshop Washington DC, 25th of May 2007


Some key messages • Worldwide more than 200M children under 5 fail to reach their potential in cognitive development • Disadvantaged children are less likely to be productive in adulthood – Fewer years of schooling – Less learning per year of schooling

• Improving nutrition/ECD is an important step to reach MDG • The first few years of life are particularly important 2

How poverty, poor health, nutrition and care affect child development

Source: Grantham-McGregor, et al. Lancet 2007


Quality of Life: Human Capital Capabilities Approach (CA) • Does our understanding of linkages between nutrition/ECD and development change if we adopt a human capital CA? • Does our understanding of the importance (i.e. returns) of nutrition/ECD interventions? • Would we construct and measure differently a Human Development Potential Index? 4

Sen’s Capabilities Approach • Development should be evaluated in term of the “expansion of the capabilities of people to lead the kinds of life they value“ (Sen, 1999:18) • “The capability perspective involves the concentration on freedoms to achieve in general and the capabilities to function in particular” (Sen, 1995:266). • …or, less formally: capability is a sort of freedom; the substantive freedom to achieve alternative functioning combinations (i.e. different lifestyles) 5

CA: Nutrition/ECD and Development • Helps to broaden economics beyond commodities and open it to more interdisciplinary cooperation (Gasper, 2002) • Stress that how people live (the category of functionings) is more important than what they earn or consume 6

CA: Importance of nutrition/ECD interventions • We should ask whether: – Do they provide capability for choice; and/or – Do they provide capability for a good life; and/or – Are they valued in themselves.

• Nutrition/ECD interventions are important under all three dimensions !!! • Thus, a pure welfarist approach may be limited 7

CA: Measurement issues • “Primary goods are the means to the freedom to achieve, and cannot be taken as indicators of freedom themselves” Sen (1999:264) • …thus we should consider, both: – the primary goods the persons respectively holds; – the relevant characteristics that govern the conversion of primary good into the person’s ability to promote his/her ends


anthropometric failures: nutrition, early child interventions and emotional, and cognitive develo...