• Globally, 250 million children under five are at risk of failing to reach full potential
• Activist said nurturing and caring is key before the children join preschool
The Early Childhood Development (ECD) Network for Kenya has asked county governments to prioritise nurturing and caring for under-five children.
ECD Network national coordinator Teresa Mwoma says globally, more than 250 million children under five are at risk of not reaching their full development potential due to a lack of proper nurture and care.
"Nurturing and caring for under-fives will enable them to reach their full development potential before joining preschool," she said.
Speaking during the fifth National ECD Stakeholders Conference in Lodwar Turkana last month, Mwoma said this year’s event was focusing on proactiveness.
The three-day event ran from from July 17-19 under the theme: 'Policy and Evidence to Action'.
It brought together more than 500 ECD practitioners, researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders from 31 countries and 10 countries.
Mwoma said its primary objective was to emphasise the crucial role of research and data in shaping policy decisions and translating them to tangible actions.
“We are here to explore what policies are available to provide guidance on early childhood development, which cuts across different sectors, including child’s health, nutrition, protection and education," she said.
"We have thematic areas that we are going to focus on ECD systems by looking at financing the ECD governance, multispectral coordination.”
Mwoma said the conference had set a record with the highest number of participants ever on the opening day: 1,193.
She thanked Turkana Governor Lomorukai and the Ministry of Education for their invaluable contributions to the conference’s success.
The conference drew participants from countries including Nigeria, Spain, Tanzania, the UK, Zambia, Gambia, Mauritius and the Caymans.
Kericho Governor Eric Mutai, who doubles as the chair of the Council of Governor Education Committee, called on the county government to employ nutrition experts to work with ECD supervisors to improve the health of children.
“County governments need to employ nutrition experts specifically to work with supervisors of ECD facilities and to improve the health of children,” he said.
We are making policy and integration to bring our commitment as the Council of Governors to another level.
Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai said his administration has allocated resources to construct the 29 new model centres across the county.
“It’s the beginning of our commitment as we plan to add more centres and renovate and equip the existing ones,” he said.
He said Turkana has been ravaged by drought for many years, which has constantly affected household food security and led to poor school enrollment.
To improve school enrollment, they are determined to strengthen the school feeding programme by ensuring better nutrition of children in schools.
He also acknowledged the valuable contributions from partners in resource mobilisation that facilitated the event.
The county boss extended an invitation to all participants to attend the upcoming Turkana Cultural and Tourism Festival scheduled for September 25-29.
Deputy Governor John Erus praised the conference for positively impacting the perception of Turkana county.
He urged the attendees to become ambassadors, promoting the attractions of Turkana to the world.
Education executive Leah Audan challenged the host of the 6th conference in 2025, Garissa county, to learn from the achievements and triumphs of the Lodwar event.
Education chief officer Korea Etelej said Turkana was picked to host the National ECD conference because they are implementing most of the themes.
He said they are implementing the theme of a feeding programme in schools.
With the help of partners, 138,277 children in ECDEs are well fed and 1,026 ECDE facilities are provided with teachers.
The ECD Network for Kenya exists to strengthen coordination and collaboration on ECD initiatives in Kenya among relevant actors and supports the development and implementation of ECD policies and programmes.
The network undertakes capacity development, research and advocacy, working with national and county governments, civil society organisations, parents and community members.
They work to ensure children access and participate in high-quality, holistic ECD programmes based on international best practices.
The network seeks to promote, support, sustain and advance an enabling environment for the implementation of nurturing care for ECD through research, advocacy, effective partnerships and strengthened multi-sector collaborations.