Early Child Development (ECD) has been prioritised as a key area of work by several international institutions in the last decade, in order the address the estimated 250 million or 43% of all children under 5 years of age residing in low and middle income countries who remain at risk of not reaching their development potential because of poverty, poor health & nutrition and suboptimal care. With 65 million, India has the largest number of disadvantaged children below 5 years of age who are at risk of impaired cognitive development and consequently, an intergenerational transmission of this disadvantage. The evidence on interventions that can improve child development outcomes and compensate for developmental delays due to risks such as poverty and malnutrition is limited, especially in the Indian context. It is important to understand who can effectively deliver community level ECD interventions, and whether these interventions can be taken to scale.
A Scalable Programme IncorpoRating Early child development interventions – ASPIRE:
Sangath and the UNICEF Office for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana & Karnataka will be collaborating to design and pilot an integrated ECD & Nutrition intervention promoting nurturing care in the first 1000 days of life, that will be embedded into the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme and delivered at the community level by Anganwadi Teachers (AWTs).
During this pilot phase, a digital ASPIRE intervention will be developed & iteratively evaluated for acceptability and feasibility in selected urban Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) of Hyderabad. Based on lessons learnt from the pilot a scale-up will be planned. This project, with its basis in ECD contributes to the body of research being looked at by the Child Development Group at Sangath. Dr. Gauri Divan and R. Roy will lead the project.