Tanzania launches a National Multi-sectoral Early Childhood Development Programme

13 December 2021- Dodoma: Investing in the early years of life has a profound impact on brain development, affecting a child’s learning, health, behaviour, and ultimately, income. It is well recognized that targeted investments in Early Childhood Development (ECD) offer opportunities to address inequalities, break the cycle of poverty and improve outcomes in later life.

The United Republic of Tanzania has become the first country in the Eastern and Central Africa to launch a national multisectoral Early Childhood Development Programme that will be implemented from financial year 2021/2022 to 2025/2026.

The launch event gathering actors from Health, Education, Internal Affairs, Finance and Local Government sectors; Development Partners; Representatives from UN Agencies, CSOs and NGOs; was officiated by the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children on behalf of Her Excellency President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

The National Multisectoral ECD Programme seeks to ensure that all children in Tanzania are developmentally on track to reach their full potential. Building on Every Woman and Every Child Strategy of SURVIVE, THRIVE, AND TRANSFORM and nurturing care framework, the programme will address systemic and programmatic challenges that affect growth and development of young children 0—8 years in line with the Sustainable Development Goal Target 4.2 which states that “by 2030 countries to ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development”.

Speaking at the launch at Jakaya Kikwete Convention Centre in Dodoma, the Minister for Health, Dr. Dorothy Gwajima expressed her joy that finally the ECD program has matured and has participation beyond the health sector. “The fact that this much awaited program is now operational creates a platform and a guide for other relevant sectors to contribute to nurturing a well-developed and rounded citizen of Tanzania,” said Dr. Gwajima.

Drawing from global instruments, the new program is geared towards bringing change for young children through providing enabling environment, strengthened service delivery, quality assurance, increased access to quality and coordinated services to young children, empowering of caregivers, families, and communities to adopt and practice nurturing care.

The WHO Country Representative to Tanzania, Dr. Tigest Ketsela Mengestu, commended the Government for committing to implement such a unique programme. “We all need to appreciate the psychosocial and economic benefits of investing in Early childhood Development. We hope the leaders present here today from all the levels will use all the available opportunities to advocate for ECD and that resources will be available to support implementation of the activities highlighted in the program,” said Dr. Mengestu.

Statements made by representatives from other sectors echoed similar sentiments and later each represented sector had an opportunity to a sign a board expressing commitment to support implementation of the programme.

For over 40 years, WHO and partners have been leading advocacy efforts to promote the ECD action in five areas: expanding political will and increasing investments; creating national policy environments; building partners’ capacity; improving multisectoral management systems; and strengthening national data and evidence. It is envisaged that through the programme all relevant stakeholders will work together proactively, aligning actions, advocating for essential changes and holding each other accountable for commitments made.