Case Study: Zambia | Early Childhood Development
Promised economic reforms have been slow to evolve since Zambia became a multi-party democracy in the 1990s. An estimated 86% are living in poverty and 16.5% (one million people) of the adult population is infected with HIV/AIDS. Zambia has one of the highest incidences of malaria-related deaths in the world.
Episcopal Relief & Development partners with the Zambia Anglican Council (ZAC) on integrated programming to support early childhood development, with activities and health monitoring for children and support for caregivers through group meetings, agricultural training and economic empowerment.
ZAC’s integrated rural program is based in churches and schools serving as Early Childhood Development Centers. The Early Childhood Development program, which is supported in part by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, leverages the assets of the Church nationally and locally, focusing on young children’s cognitive, psychosocial and physical development. Trained ECD volunteers facilitate support and learning groups for caregivers and playgroups for children, make monthly home visits and provide referrals to needed services. The ECD Program succeeds in helping caregivers and communities so that young children can thrive in rural areas, serving as a catalyst for community organizing and development in marginalized areas.
Caregiver learning and support groups are the hub for diverse activities, including education about child health and nutrition and the importance of clean water, sanitation and hygiene. The groups include a Savings with Education component where participants are able to build up personal funds to invest in their children's health and education. Participants are also able to access training and seeds for constructing household gardens to improve household nutrition and diet diversity. Adult literacy classes and vocational and business training have enabled many individuals, especially women, to start small enterprises and support their families. The caregiver support groups also offer special care and counseling for people living with HIV/AIDS.