World Bank president Robert Zoellick and the Colombian singer, representing her ALAS Foundation, signed an agreement launching the Early Childhood Initiative: An Investment For Life at the bank’s Washington headquarters.
The partnership agreement also included Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
The initiative is aimed at expanding development programs for children through age six to provide them with adequate nutrition, health care and other support.
It also will focus on cost-effective policies and resources in the region and attempt to mobilise public support to improve opportunities for young children and thereby help overcome deep inequalities, Mr Zoellick says.
“ALAS – and Shakira in particular – have made an enormous contribution to placing young children at the heart of the public policy priorities in Latin America,” he said.
“We are pleased to work with her, ALAS and the Earth Institute to offer hope and opportunity for children who deserve a better future.”
Shakira is the founder of ALAS, a coalition of Latin American artists and business leaders that promote early childhood development programs in the region.
“If we want to build a better world, we have to give children the chance to improve their lives, no matter where they are born or how difficult their circumstances,” she said.
“By giving every child a fair start in life, we are improving our collective future.”
The initiative will provide $US300 million over the next two years in loans, grants and trust fund resources, as well as technical support towards the design and implementation of child development policies in Latin America and the Caribbean.