May 12, 2014

1,000 Days: The Period That Decides the Health and Wealth of the World

This post by senior fellow Roger Thurow originally appeared on the Outrage and Inspire blog. 

Roger Thurow's commentary was originally published on The Atlantic

Barjwinya, UGANDA—In this tiny village in northern Uganda, Esther Okwir heard something she could barely believe: Her child could be the country’s president one day.

Esther, a 22-year-old who was five months pregnant, sat on the cement floor of a veranda at the Ongica Health Center on a sweltering afternoon, squeezed under a tin awning with several dozen women who had come to the spartan clinic from miles around. About half of them were also pregnant, some poised to deliver any day, and the others cradled and breastfed newborn babies.

The 1,000-day period from the beginning of pregnancy to a child’s second birthday “will determine the health of your child, the ability to learn in school, to perform at a future job,” Susan Ejang, the midwife at the clinic, told the women, adding that proper nutrition for the mother and child, as well as good sanitation and hygiene, are vital to prevent stunting of the body and brain. She spread her arms wide, as if to embrace all the women on the porch. “Yes,” she insisted, “if you take good care, the next president of the country may come from this group.”

Esther had been dreaming a bit more modestly. She hoped her child would get a good education and be successful in business. But the president of the country? Well, why not? “That would really be something,” she said.

The midwife’s message—that in the first 1,000 days parents’ ambitions for their children begin to be fulfilled, or dashed—has become one of the biggest new ideas in international development, as economists, academics, doctors, politicians, and aid workers discover the profound ways in which proper nutrition in the earliest years of life can influence an individual’s ability to grow, learn, and work—and determine the long-term health and prosperity of families, nations, and the world as a whole.

Read more here.

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The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

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Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Blogroll

1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA

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