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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 is partnering with the Zambia Anglican Council (ZAC) to strengthen its capacity to implement integrated development and health activities throughout all dioceses.

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.

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 Group component where participants contribute a small amount each week and build up 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.

Zambia was the pilot country for our NetsforLife® program partnership to fight malaria. The ongoing program trains volunteers to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets and educate communities on their proper use to help prevent the disease. For more information about this partnership, please visit our NetsforLife® page.

Alleviating Hunger and Improving Food Supply 

  • Providing training in sustainable agricultural practices and seeds to plant kitchen gardens for household nutrition

Creating Economic Opportunities and Strengthening Communities 

  • Facilitating savings groups to enable participants to build up funds to invest in child health and education
  • Offering adult literacy classes and business and vocational training to enable people to earn greater income
  • Assisting caregivers and parents in supporting the cognitive, social, emotional and physical development of children under five

Promoting Health and Fighting Disease 

  • Creating community-based health systems that rely on local staff and volunteers
  • Improving child health through targeted activities for caregivers and families
  • Installing hand-washing stations at ECD centers and emphasizing the importance of sanitation and hygiene
  • Preventing malaria through the NetsforLife® program partnership 

Zambia Stories

Children Thriving in Rural ZambiaZambia Program Expands with $1 Million Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Grant

Fast Facts

Over 750,000 Zambian children are orphaned by HIV/AIDS, with the number estimated to reach over one million in the next 10 years. 

Malaria is responsible for 40% of deaths among children under five and 20% of deaths of pregnant women.


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