Integrated early childhood development services

Contributes to better nutrition outcomes

Arnold Munthali
Children in class at Makankhula CBCC
UNICEF Malawi/2022/Munthali
18 August 2022

Mike Kachepamwendo says it’s hard to believe so many children here in Makankhula suffer from malnutrition.

Kachepamwendo, a disease control surveillance assistant, points out that the nearby Chimbiya trading centre, beside the M1, Malawi’s main highway, is filled with produce and agricultural products.

“The area lacks for nothing, but most parents sell their produce and forget to keep some for the nutritional needs of their households,” he says.

He adds that child malnutrition can lead to learning challenges and can have far reaching effects on individuals and the community.

Although Malawi has made significant strides in reducing chronic malnutrition, stunting (low height for age) remains steady for children under-5 (39 per cent for boys) and (32 per cent for girls).

To combat the situation, UNICEF Malawi collaborates with the government to improve policies and learning frameworks, which among others, highlights the links between ECD and other development areas including health, nutrition, early childcare, and learning and development services.

Health worker Kachepamwendo measuring children's height using a height board in Kudemela Village
UNICEF Malawi/2022/Munthali
Health worker Kachepamwendo measuring children's height using a height board in Kudemela Village

More than 50 per cent of ECD caregivers lack skills on standard ECD package and the entire caregiving workforce at ECD centres works on volunteer basis, which has an impact on the quality and sustainability of the services. UNICEF Malawi is supporting the Malawi Government to train caregivers to provide required quality ECD services to all children.

With support from UNICEF Finland, UNICEF Malawi and the Malawi Government have also constructed two community-based childcare centre (CBCC), to improve nutritional outcome and early learning for under-five children. In addition, caregivers at the CBCC were also provided with mentorship support and training.

Kachepamwendo works with children at one of the CBCCs at Makankhula and says UNICEF’s interventions are making a difference.

“I go to Makankhula often to advise the caregivers on the hygienic preparation of food and also to ensure the food is nutritious,” he says.