The Child Development Index released by Save the Children shows that Japan is the best place in the world to be a child while Somalia is the worst. The report also notes that while many countries in the world made remarkable progress in child health, education and nutrition – the three premises that form the basis of this report – India slipped by 12 ranks between 1995 and 2010. The report makes an aggregate analysis of the Child Development Index in three time periods – 1995-1999, 2000-2004 and 2005-2010.
India’s poor performance comes in the context of as many as 127 countries improving their scores between 1995 and 2010. India’s CDI fell by three ranks (100 to 103) between 1995 and 1999, and by another nine ranks (103 to 112) between 2005 and 2010. Out of 141 countries that have been ranked, India is among the only 14 whose rank has dropped.
The report points out that:
1. 127 countries improved their scores on the Child Development Index in the period of 2005–10
2. 9,000 fewer children under-five died per day on average in the period of 2005–10 than in 1995–99
3. 50 million more children were in primary school in the period of 2005–10 than in 1995–99
4. 36 million fewer children were underweight in 2005–10 than 1995–99
But the report also says:
1.5 million more children suffered from acute malnutrition in 2005–10 than in the half of the 2000s.
The index showed some significant achievements:
1. Conditions for children have improved in 90 per cent of countries since the second half of the 1990s
2. A child is a third more likely to go to school than the mid 90s
3. A child is a third less likely to die before their fifth birthday now than during the mid 90s
However in stark contrast, it shows nutrition is seriously lagging behind and that:
1. Nutrition showed the least progress of any component of the Child Development Report
2. The proportion of acutely malnourished children grew by 1.2 per cent during the 2000s
3. East Asia had the biggest percentage growth in acute hunger - 17 per cent (although the absolute numbers are comparatively low)
The reports asks donors to:
• Maintain the recent focus on these issues. The hunger crisis can be dealt with but it will need a concerted effort, not a stand-alone moment.
• Scale up multi-year funding for nutrition, putting in place outcome targets to reduce child undernutrition and to support the establishment of social transfer programmes – above all for those countries that will find it most difficult to reduce stunting.
• Address the underlying drivers of high food prices which are at the root of ever more frequent food crises, such as the ones that we are currently witnessing in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. In particular, invest in smallholder agricultural development, prioritising support for women smallholder producers and sustainable farming approaches.
• Commit to support the generation and use of better data, to improve transparency and accountability around these vital issues. This report has also highlighted the weaknesses in basic child well-being data; the same data is, of course, crucial to effective policy responses.