UNICEF hands over Integrated Early Childhood Development Hubs to Communities in Chongwe District
LUSAKA, Zambia, 10 November 2022 – UNICEF today officially handed over two Community-Based Integrated Early Childhood Development (ECD) Hubs, locally called Insakas in Chongwe District with the Minister of Health, Hon. Sylvia Masebo presiding. The hubs are strategically located in the heart of their communities and bring together existing basic social services with strong leadership by community members, who ensure and promote sound and timely nurturing care interventions for young children and caregivers within their communities.
The Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) through different line ministries including Health, Education and Community Development and Social Services, and with the support from UNICEF, is scaling up the implementation of this Early Childhood Development programme known as “Insaka”.
Insaka means a space in the community where community members gather and engage in dialogue, share knowledge and commune. The programme started in 2017 and represents a sustainable intervention model of delivering multiple services at community level. The first Insaka launched was Kholowa Mphala in Katete District in 2019.
“Government, recognises that children need to be given an opportunity to explore and discover their world in a safe and secure environment, and that is what these Early Childhood Development community hubs bring,” said Hon. Masebo.
At the hubs, health workers, teachers and community-based volunteers, all work hand in hand with community members to ensure that young children’s wellbeing is placed at the centre of community development. Households with young children and pregnant women located in the proximity of the hubs are further supported through monthly home visits by the volunteers.
The Insaka Programme sites in Chongwe have been established in two vulnerable rural communities named Chibombe and Kasubanya. These hubs will reach children 0-8 years of age and caregivers with essential services.
At the launch, communities were congratulated for mobilizing around their children’s welfare and embracing Insaka Programme activities— a movement for all of Zambia. Thanks to the Insaka programme, children have access to early stimulation from 0 to 3 years of age, they learn through play, their growth is monitored, and they receive immunization and vitamin supplementation. Parents also benefit—they receive counselling and literacy classes, and there is a kitchen and garden for nutrition promotion and cooking demonstrations. All this is contributing positively to children’s social, emotional and cognitive development, which in turn supports the overall socio-economic development of the country.
“I would like to congratulate the Government of Zambia for establishing early childhood development as a key priority area in its Eighth National Development Plan,” Mohamed M. Malick Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, added. “This is a critical issue for children and development across Africa. Whether children get what they need in the first zero to three years of life, to a large extent determines what happens to them afterwards, including their ability to do well at school and become productive adults, contributing to the regional economy.”
Programme implementation is coordinated by three key line ministries using an integrated multisectoral approach, and with World Vision International serving as the implementing partner in the district. The Insaka programme is guided by UNICEF’s Nurturing Care Framework whose two objectives are children up to the age of school entry receiving an integrated package of essential services delivered by multisectoral stakeholders, and caregivers practicing nurturing care to help children reach their full potential, including into adulthood. More broadly, the programme contributes to Zambia’s efforts to reduce stunting and improve health and developmental outcomes for children.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Zambia, visit www.unicef.org/zambia.