The World Bank, government and foundation partners have launched a new programme to scale up quality, affordable childcare in developing countries.

The Bank said that the “global Childcare Incentive Fund will catalyze at least $180 million in new funding in the next 5 years to support childcare in low and middle-income countries, providing wide returns for families, businesses, and economies.”

Also, the Bank described the initiative as a critical investment to build the next generation of human capital and place women at the centre of an inclusive global economic recovery.

World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships, Mari Pangestu said, “Nearly eight out of 10 children who need childcare live in low- and middle-income countries. At a time when developing economies are hit hard by the pandemic and the impacts of the war in Ukraine, expanding quality, affordable childcare is essential for women to be able to go back to work, open up more economic opportunities, and help young children thrive.

“Smart investments in childcare can help countries accelerate equality, build human capital, and promote economic growth in the long term.”

According to the Bank, lack of affordable childcare often keeps women out of the workforce and limits their ability to take on quality employment and earn more.

When women, the Bank noted earn and control their income, “they tend to channel more money toward their children’s health, education, and overall family welfare.

“Quality childcare provides a safe and stimulating educational environment for children during the critical early years – a period of rapid and consequential development that lays the foundation for future life success.

“These investments help build human capital, which is intrinsically important for individual well-being, creating more equitable societies, sustaining economic growth, and preventing millions of people from falling into poverty”.

The Bank pointed out that the global Childcare Incentive Fund will support countries to design and implement better childcare programmes, improve policies, build capacity, generate data, and provide evidence on the impacts of childcare on women’s empowerment, early childhood development, and inclusive economic growth.

“The Fund will match country investments in childcare on a $1:$1 basis, up to $10 million per country, used alongside funding from the World Bank’s IDA and IBRD, other development partners, private sector resources, and countries’ own commitments, so that each grant helps to catalyze wider investments and returns”, the World Bank said.

The Fund is supported by the governments of Australia, Canada, and the United States; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Echidna Giving; the Ford Foundation; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and the LEGO Foundation.

“Combined, these pledges will catalyze at least $180 million in new funding to ensure quality, affordable childcare in available in low- and middle-income countries worldwide,” they noted.

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