In addition to informational briefings this week at the International Conference Center about the full rollout of the World Bank-supported Early Childhood Development project, a number of important specific aspects of the new program were launched.
These included the Ministries of Health, Education and Culture and Internal Affairs signing agreements for this multi-ministry intervention that aims to dramatically improve both the health and cognitive (brain) development of children in their first 1,000 days.
This was part of this week’s two-day ECD National Forum at the ICC.
Another important initiative is the expansion of WUTMI’s ongoing family and children’s outreach program. The ECD Forum included a presentation of funding of $543,821.15 to WUTMI to expand its ECD home visits program by adding 180 families for over two years.
Another key part of the ECD program is to put money into the hands of mothers with babies and young children in hopes of helping them to improve the nutritional status of their children, as well as ensuring things like attendance at pre- and post-natal clinics, completing immunization requirements for children, and other maternal and child health needs.
This latter program will be performed by providing ECD debit cards administered by Bank of Marshall Islands to eligible mothers. The aim this year is to launch the ECD cards with about 100 mothers on Majuro and Ebeye in a trial run for what will be a wider rollout in 2023 and 2024 as the program expands to include the outer islands.
The agreement for what is known as the “conditional cash transfer” program was signed as part of the ECD Forum at the ICC to officially launch this element of the $30 million World Bank project.
Finance Minister Brenson Wase, Finance Secretary Patrick Langrine, Bank of Marshall Islands CEO Velma Edwards, and Acting CIA Secretary Rebecca Lorennij joined together to sign the agreement for the conditional cash transfer program.