Early childhood development
Access to early childhood development services remains a challenge for children in Sierra Leone.
In Sierra Leone, ECD programming is limited with children from the poorest households having the least access to integrated ECD services. Early Childhood Development Centres are non-existent in most parts of the country. This means that thousands of young children miss out on good health, nutrition, responsive caregiving, security and safety and opportunities for early learning. They are not provided with the tools they need to develop and learn, to help them establish a foundation upon which they can build their futures and realize their fullest potential.
UNICEF contribution to the solution
To improve access to quality ECD programming, UNICEF has been building cross-sectoral synergy and strengthening national systems to coordinate, manage, and scale up high impact ECD interventions.
Early Stimulation for Malnourished Young Children
According to the latest data, approximately 31 per cent of young children under five in Sierra Leone are stunted, while 13 per cent are underweight. Early stimulation can mitigate this by significantly enhancing the effectiveness of nutrition interventions. This proposed initiative will result in 20,000 severely malnourished under-fives benefiting from early stimulation, nutrition counseling and treatment in seven districts in Sierra Leone.
Early Stimulation for Sick New-borns and Young Children
Early stimulation for sick newborns can save young lives. In Sierra Leone early stimulation is not integrated into medical treatment for newborns in hospitals, which is compounded by limited practical knowledge on appropriate play and communication amongst caregivers.
UNICEF aims to integrate early stimulation into antenatal and postnatal care; newborn care units and pediatric units of hospitals in seven districts. Impact includes 120,000 sick children under six years who will access early stimulation opportunities and 145,000 pregnant women and mothers of newborns sensitized on the application of early stimulation.