Extend child support grant into pregnancy & help SA's children reach their full potential.

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Grow Great Campaign
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Over a quarter (27%) of children under five in South Africa are nutritionally stunted.

Stunting is a condition that arises from chronic undernutrition and affects the physical and brain development of affected children. Prolonged undernutrition stunts the cognitive development of young children and undermines their ability to learn. As a result, stunted children are more likely to drop out of school and live in poverty and unemployment as adults, when compared to their non-stunted counterparts. Stunting, at a national level, undermines our collective aspirations to be a knowledge economy and results in a shameful loss of precious human capital.

Much of the vulnerability to stunting begins during pregnancy and in the first few years of life, when most of the brain development is happening and when pregnant women and young children need access to nutritious food filled with the micronutrients necessary to build healthy brains. As many as 40% of eligible children do not access the child support grant in the first year of life when the grant would have its greatest impact and protect children from nutritional stunting. In addition, South African currently does not make provision for any form of income support for poor women in pregnancy, a time of increased financial vulnerability for the majority of South Africa’s women.

Expanding the CSG into pregnancy would go a long way in reducing the risk of stunting by enabling women to access the increased nutrition demands pregnancy places on expectant mothers, as well as enabling them to attend the eight prescribed antenatal care visits that are critical to ensuring that the pregnant mother and unborn child receive the required clinical care, medication and support during pregnancy. In addition, reducing food insecurity in pregnancy would contributing to reduced maternal depression, which research estimates affect a 1/3rd of pregnant women in South Africa and which has also been shown to have adverse effects on infant growth, brain development and maternal-infant bonding and attachment.

Research from countries that offer vulnerable pregnant women income support has seen significant returns on investment in terms of maternal and child health outcomes, with this money being spent mostly on nutritious food. These cash transfers were also shown to enable pregnant women’s attendance in routine healthcare visits and improve child growth and maternal wellbeing.

South Africa has identified expanding social protection into pregnancy as a policy aspiration in the National Development Plan and this is commendable. However, it is now time we move from aspiration to action and ensure we protect all children’s right to enjoy a future free from the injustice of nutritional

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