Advancing Nurturing Care in Humanitarian Settings
Overview of workshops in Arab countries
An estimated 29 million babies were born into conflict-affected areas in 2018 (UNICEF, 2019). Young children in these situations, particularly those aged 0-5, face compounded risks to their development stemming from multiple adverse experiences which may include exposure to war and conflict, forced displacement, migration, and resettlement in new settings, such as a refugee camp, or integration within host communities. The ‘double emergency’ induced by the COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded these challenges. To mitigate these risks, an integrated set of crisis-sensitive services across health, including MPHSS, nutrition, education, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), social/protection-related sectors are needed. In alignment with the Nurturing Care Framework (NCF) (Arabic), caregivers, when supported to care for themselves and equipped with the knowledge and resources, are best placed to provide their children nurturing care. National and subnational leadership is needed to incorporate and optimize early childhood development in humanitarian settings. Actors across governments and the humanitarian architecture must not only mobilize together behind a comprehensive approach for preparedness and recovery for acute and protracted crises but also drive forward and sustain the necessary robust long-term investments for continued prioritization. An advocacy brief published late 2020 entitled Nurturing care for children living in humanitarian settings (available in Arabic and Spanish) provided guidance to decision makers on adapting existing efforts given the specific needs and challenges of context-specific crises. Following the release of the brief, the Arab Network for Early Childhood (ANECD), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Save the Children, UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) came together to disseminate the brief and foster country-level action. A global working group was formed in early 2021 comprising of representatives from the same five organizations at global and regional levels. Together, they supported five national task teams to organize multisectoral and multistakeholder workshops between October and December 2021. This report describes the process for organizing the workshops, reflects on cross-cutting issues and ideas that emerged across the workshops and outlines a set of recommendations for continuing to advance nurturing care in the five contexts as well as in other contexts affected by crisis.