Addis Ababa Deputy Mayor highlights green implications of landmark early childhood development program

Addis Ababa’s Children: The Future Hope of Addis Ababa Early Childhood Development Initiative will not only prepare children for the future – it will also have an unplanned positive impact on the environment, wrote Addis Ababa Deputy Mayor Jantirar Abay in a recent op-ed.

In the op-ed, he highlighted that the Future Hope initiative, launched in March 2021, is “a commitment to provide universal access to comprehensive early years services to all 1.3 million children under 6 years old who will live in the city by 2027, with intensified support for vulnerable children in 330,000 low-income households.”

In the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Early Childhood Matters journal, Deputy Mayor Jantirar shared how the initiative will increase opportunities for children to learn through play, an important factor for children’s development of motor, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.

Through “revitalizing existing urban spaces” to make them green areas or squares, children will have new and healthier places to play safely and interact with their environment.

Deputy Mayor Jantirar wrote that the initiative also includes creating “30 “open roads” on Sundays where children can play without concerns about traffic.” He added, “we plan to plant trees and seedlings along roadsides, to offer shade and contact with nature for toddlers walking with their caregivers.”

Though the Future Hope of Addis program did not originally set out to address climate issues, the Deputy Mayor highlighted that intentional inclusion of climate change in children-focused programming, particularly education, could benefit climate action “by improving both the understanding of the challenge and the skills to envision new solutions.”

The Deputy Mayor expressed hope that others will learn from the City Administration’s experience and more intentionally include climate action in early childhood development initiatives.

The Future Hope of Addis program aims to transform Addis Ababa to make it friendlier and greener for children and their parents and caregivers—with the aim of the growing population being “healthier, stronger and more capable of playing a positive role in the subsequent improvement of their city, their country and the planet.”

Read the full op-ed here.

Big Win Philanthropy is proud to support the Future Hope of Addis program with the Bernard van Leer Foundation. Learn more about the program here.