Ethiopia Early Childhood Development Program

The Big Win

The Addis Ababa City Administration has committed to an integrated plan to reach all children under 7 years’ old with an array of comprehensive programs including universal pre-school, home visits to especially vulnerable families by a new cadre of social workers, establishment of day care centers, and expansion of public play spaces.

The program design is supported by the relevant federal ministries with the expectation that this will be a model replicated throughout the country, and an ambition to become a continental model.

The program builds on compelling evidence around the connection of early childhood interventions to child health outcomes and later educational and economic success, as well as an ongoing effort to make Addis Ababa a more livable urban environment.

42.3 million Ethiopia's projected urban population by 2037
100,000 children to have access to play spaces

The Ethiopia–Big Win Partnership

While Ethiopia is still predominantly a rural country, this is set to change dramatically in the coming years. The country’s urban population is expected to triple to 42.3 million by 20371.

The Mayor of Addis Ababa and his municipal leadership team, in partnership with the office of the Prime Minister and the federal ministries of health, gender, social affairs are coordinating to design and implement a set of childhood development programs with the goal of improving nutrition, health and educational outcomes for children. They are working to integrate Early Childhood Development investments with thriving platforms such as the urban Health Extension Program (HEP) and the Urban Safety Net Programs in order to widen their remit into school networks. The Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) is providing key technical support to the government leadership team, while Big Win will support the sector coordination, communications and monitoring aspects.

Big Win’s Support

Big Win and BvLF have been facilitating an exchange of ideas from experts who have implemented similar programs in other parts of the world.

Four members of the Addis Ababa Municipal Team (the Deputy Mayor and the Heads of the Bureaus of Health, Education, and Environment) were enrolled in Urban95 program in Copenhagen which helps city planners, urban designers, and other urbanists understand how their work can influence child development by viewing cities from 95cm – the height of a 3-year-old.

In June, a study tour of the Crianca Feliz (Happy Child) initiative in Brazil was organized for a delegation of the relevant Ethiopian leadership at federal and municipal level. This led to a unified prioritization of interventions for Addis Ababa.

The leadership team currently meets weekly to progress the planning. Programs began rolling out in September 2019, beginning with 20 pilot daycare centers, as well as daycare centers in all public offices for the children of civil servants, a new degree program for kindergarten teachers, a home visit program that will reach 50% of vulnerable children, and the closure of a set streets on weekends to allow 100,000 children to access play spaces. The aim is to reach all children within 5 years.

Big Win will provide support to ensure that there is sufficient management capacity and that the policy, budget lines, regulations and accountabilities are clearly established to ensure sustainability. Big Win is also supporting the government to ensure adequate monitoring of program implementation and evaluation of child outcomes.

Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency