KANCO EARLY CHILD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
“Early Start Strong Foundation for Africa” (ESSFA)
While progress has been made, most governments still do not prioritize early childhood in their health, education, poverty reduction or other national plans, and many countries still lack early childhood development policies, strategic plans and laws (Engle, 2007). Current and future Kenyan goals will only be met with a recognition that increased attention to and investment in the overall development of young children, the caregivers responsible for them, and the context in which families are living in are inextricably linked to sustainable development.
Early childhood development is that concerted action to tackle preventable infant and maternal deaths including consideration of child and mother mental health, universal access to reproductive health care, good water and sanitation, and comprehensive treatment of HIV/AIDS. The socio-economic impact of the HIV epidemic is reflected in the increase in number of orphans and vulnerable children, single parent headed households, erosion of household incomes and inaccessibility to basic needs, stigma and discrimination of persons infected and affected by HIV; all resulting in deepening poverty and added constraints to economic growth. In Kenya HIV/AIDS accounts for 29% of annual adult deaths, 20% of maternal mortality and 15% of deaths for children under 5 years of age.
As a result, KANCO with the support of the Conrad and Hilton Foundation rolled out an ambitious 3-year ECD project to train CBOs to understand key principles of ECD and the critical value and potential impact of integrating ECD interventions into their programmes for the youngest children affected by HIV/AIDs. KANCO has so far trained 1050 community health volunteers, 105 CBOs, 105 community health extension workers and 210 community based organization leaders on the science of early childhood development.
The project has three objectives:
- To support 105 CBOs in Kenya to understand and integrate the principles and tools for early childhood development into their programmes for children affected by HIV.
- To secure support from government and civil society in Kenya for ECD interventions for children affected by HIV and lastly.
- To create champions in Kenya and East & Southern Africa towards integration of ECD in HIV programmes
The beneficiary (s)
The main beneficiaries of this project are the government, CBOs, CHVs, CHEWs, parents and children among others. This is with appreciation that provision of Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) involves participation of the households, community and government in integrated development of children. Among the benefits that the CBOs have received includes;
- They were trained and mentored to use the evidence and tools to build understanding and commitment to ECD, as well as use key tools to support families to provide protective and safe care environments and relationships which stimulate young children and promote their optimal physical, cognitive and emotional development.
- The CBOs were also supported to ensure that children are reached as early as possible before they show signs of distress.
- Providing access to family support programmes by training 1050 community health providers to integrate ECD into home visits .The CHVs have reached 36000 children between 2014–16 with children between 0-5 years. The family support programmes address holistic child development especially to the children and their families affected or infected with HIV/AIDs.
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded grant to International AIDS Alliance (IHAA) in partnership with KANCO to improve child development and health outcomes for children aged up to 3 years infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in East and Southern Africa.
Project Implementation period
The project period is 3 years commenced in January 2014 and ending in December 2016
Inequalities in child development begin before a child is born, continue and often widen in the early years through illness ,toxic stress, malnutrition, lack of nurturing care ,early stimulation , education , or poverty-related risks that impact children’s developing brains . These risks and adverse experiences, particularly in the first five years of life, have a profound negative impact on a child’s future well-being, especially in regard to health, education and academic outcomes and earning potential. KANCO has been able to mitigate these risk factors by strengthening the environments in which young children grow and thrive through community system strengthening, parenting interventions, early detection and intervention for developmental delays and disabilities; early childhood programs of care, support and learning, where possible integrated into home visiting programs; targeted health, nutrition, sanitation and social protection services; and good quality preschools. These are among the things that KANCO proudly has accomplished through the ECD project in 17 Counties in Kenya.