Addis Ababa launches early childhood development program

Big Win Philanthropy is pleased to see the Addis Ababa City Administration launch the “Children: The Future Hope of Addis Ababa Early Childhood Development Program,” a bold program that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in Ethiopia’s capital.

The comprehensive early childhood development (ECD) program targets children under the age of six at home, in schools, and in communities to create a conducive environment that caters to the wide-ranging growth needs of children. These early-life interventions across multiple sectors will improve children’s odds of good health and success in school, work, and life, creating a knock-on effect for Ethiopia’s economy.

The City Administration of Addis Ababa formulated the program with technical support from Big Win and the Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF). As part of the program strategy development process, Big Win and BvLF facilitated an exchange of ideas from international experts who have implemented similar programs in other parts of the world, which helped to lay the groundwork for the development of this program. In addition, multiple Federal ministries supported the development of a strategic plan for scaling up integrated ECD services nationwide.

Decades of research have shown that investing in ECD is the single most effective method for poor and vulnerable populations to break out of poverty and vulnerability cycles. ECD targets children from the prenatal period up to the age of six to ensure healthy development from the earliest stages of life. Every US$1 invested in high-quality 0-to-5 education for disadvantaged children delivers a 13% annual return on investment, significantly higher than the 7-10% return delivered by preschool programs alone.[1]

“Children: The Future Hope of Addis Ababa Early Childhood Development Program” will provide intensive support to 330,000 vulnerable families and children and strives to provide universal access to comprehensive ECD services to all children in the city by 2025.

The program comprises nine strategic areas for interventions and programming, including the development of friendlier urban spaces for young children and their caregivers, and greater access to health and social support services. The city will benefit from the development of 16-day care centers, 14 model preschools, 10 outdoor playgrounds, and 30 open roads on Sundays, which will serve as model places for providing safe spaces for children to play, learn, grow, and develop.

To improve the provision of nurturing care, the program will introduce parent coaching programs through regular household visits by urban health extension professionals and social workers.

In addition to the direct services provided to children under the age of six and their caregivers, the program will also see the establishment of a world-class ECD Center of Excellence. This center will become a hub that provides services such as training, policy advice, networking events, new innovations, and monitoring and quality assurance support for the expansion of ECD programming to the rest of Ethiopia and across the African continent. To learn more about the program, read Addis Ababa Mayor Adanech Abiebie’s article on Apolitical here.

Big Win is proud to continue its support for expanding ECD in Ethiopia. To learn more, read our case study.


Photograph courtesy of UNICEF.

[1] James J. Heckman, “The Heckman Equation. The Economics of Human Potential”