Our Vision

We are seeking to make a significant and lasting contribution to sustainable development and peacebuilding in low- and middle-income countries impacted by ethnic divisions and conflict through investment in high quality early childhood development programmes.

A class of children sat on a carpet listening to a teacher reading in Viet Nam.


The impact of poverty on child development

It has been estimated that 250 million children (43%) under 5 years of age in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at risk of not achieving their developmental potential. Such developmental delays are evident in the first year of life and cumulatively worsen through the lifespan.

The cost of not addressing such development delays is huge, especially for those countries that are already most in need.

It has been estimated that if we can just reduce the prevalence of developmental delays by 15% this would save LMICs over twice the amount they currently spend nationally each year on health.

The exacerbating effects of conflict

High and sustained levels of poverty increases the risk of countries descending into civil disorder and conflict. Morever, there is strong evidence to indicate that conflict and war tends to intensify poverty. Countries that have experienced major violence have extreme poverty rates 21 percentage points higher than those with no violence.

In such contexts, the position of young children is particularly acute, with the increased risk of stunted development due to poverty being significantly exacerbated through exposure to violence and the range of mental health issues and psychological problems that result.

The role of early childhood development programmes

The 2016 Lancet Early Childhood Development Series set out clear evidence of the importance of investing in early childhood development (ECD) as a requisite for achieving many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. From a life course perspective, the Series demonstrated the long-term benefits and returns to society of focusing on the creation of strong, nurturing environments for young children.

The vision of the LINKS network is that, for LMICs impacted by conflict, investment in ECD programmes is not only essential to support sustainable development but can also make an important contribution to peacebuilding.

Our Shared Vision

We have worked with global partners through the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) to jointly develop the vision for precisely how we believe investment in high-quality ECD programmes can contribute to sustainable development and peacebuilding for those LMICs impacted by conflict and violence. This ECPC report, co-authored by members of the LINKS network, sets out a shared global agenda for change.