First years of life a priority in meeting on child development

March 26, 2019

Emergencies, protracted conflicts, and displacement can and do have lifelong negative impacts on the health and well-being of children.

Children pose in front of a house in the informal settlement of Mathare, in Nairobi, Kenya.
Laura Kraft / SuSanA Secretariat

In their earliest years of life, children are particularly vulnerable to conditions of extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, conflict, and humanitarian emergencies. When these adversities are many and intersect, there is an increase in stress. When chronic, this stress can become toxic to biological development during the most critical period in a child’s life, with short, medium, and long-term effects.

IDRC joins the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada on March 28, 2019 as co-hosts of the roundtable “Adversities, Development, and New Interventions” at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa. This exchange aims to explore understandings of the multiple adversities that can affect child development and to identify potential opportunities for targeted nurturing interventions to reduce harm to a child’s brain and body development.

IDRC and the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada jointly fund research on early childhood development in refugee and other marginalized communities. Two researchers will share insights from this work at the roundtable:

  • Stephen Lye, senior investigator and associate director, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health Systems, Canada
  • Amina Abubakar, associate professor, Pwani University, and a research fellow at the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Wellcome Trust Research Program

Their research aims to identify factors that build resilience for early human development in an informal settlement in Nairobi that is home to displaced families from within Kenya and abroad. Co-led by the Aga Khan University in Pakistan and Sinai Health Systems, the project assesses the effectiveness of an integrated package of interventions in critical areas of child development and the feasibility and affordability of scaling up in participating communities.