Chairing the session on Policies and Programming, our Director Dr. Chris De Neubourg delivered an introductory presentation on a paper focused on generational policy programming, holistic approaches to child development and multidimensional child poverty.
Almost every document on child development advocates a holistic approach to child related policy but few (if any) countries have translated this advocacy into a holistic approach to child related policy. Most countries keep on using a sectoral approach for designing and implementing child policies in health, education, WASH etc separately. UNICEF, as the largest and most important international agent in child policy programming, is not different in this respect. Situation analyses (SitAn’s) and country programmes are nearly always written along sectoral lines: the plea for a holistic approach to child development remains rather hollow.
The great number of Multidimensional Child Poverty- or Child Multidimensional Deprivation studies provide an evidence base to the plea for the holistic approach to child policy development. These studies invariably show that a massive number of children suffer from 2, 3 or 4 deprivations simultaneously and that single sector policy approaches will only have a very limited impact in terms of improving child outcomes. A growing number of specifc analyses also point out that important more complex child problems such as stunting and school-drop-out can only be meaningful addressed if a multisector approach is followed.
The pertinacity of sectoral policy making is partially due to natural inertia in phenomena that have existed for very long. It is also not easy to design multisectoral policy under stringent budget constraints. The obvious solution to the budget constraints is to target policy actions either to the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the (child) population or to target actions regionally or locally. In both cases a holistic approach would still be possible but is seldom chosen. The result remains a scattered number of policy initiatives each aimed at different subgroups of children and leaving an important number of children out.
This paper pleas for an alternative approach that is child centered at the start and concentrates efforts and budgets on single cohorts of children – generational policy programming. The approach starts by taking a cohort of children for example being born in a year and design a policy programme that encompasses all sectors important for the child wellbeing: antenatal care, birth assistance, birth registration, postnatal care, immunization, early childhood stimulations, mother’s ad hoc education on nutrition and child protection, WASH. The same approach can be used for children entering primary or secondary school in a particular programme. The paper elaborates the approach for Lao PDR using the evidence as generated by Multidimensional Child Poverty analysis on the basis of LSIS II and provides a comprehensive child policy implementation plan covering a 5-years period and approaching children in a holistic multisectoral way including providing estimates of the number of children covered under the programme and budgets needed to implement the plans.