‘The Africa We Want - A Better Future Now’: Inaugural Early Childhood Development Conference begins in Nairobi, Kenya.

Over 45 countries and 500 participants gather to support enhancing and developing early childhood services in Africa #Istand4children #AfECN2018'The Africa We Want - A Better Future Now’ is supported by Open Society Foundations, UNICEF, World Forum Foundation, ELP, Hilton Foundation, CIFF and Bernard Von Leer Foundation

Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 16, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Representatives from over 45 countries in Africa convene today in Nairobi to discuss one of the greatest challenges, and opportunities, facing the continent: how to support the proper nurturing of children during the most pivotal days of their lives. This historic event on early childhood development, taking place from October 17 – 19 and entitled “The Africa We Want: A Better Future Now” will involve over 500 participants from all over Sub Saharan Africa including government ministers, African Union delegates, NGOs, and regional and local practitioners.

Lynette Okengo, Executive Director of the Africa Early Childhood Network, which is organizing this historic event, said: “By 2050, more than 40 per cent of the children in the world will live in Africa. This population growth offers an economic opportunity for Africa but reaping the benefits of this demographic dividend can only be achieved by nurturing children in the early stages of their development. We must ensure that our children not only survive, but thrive”

Early childhood development is one of the most pressing issues facing the African continent today. Research shows that over 90 per cent of a child’s brain develops by the time they reach age five. In Sub Saharan Africa, 66 per cent of children under the age of 5 risk failing to reach their developmental potential because of poverty, poor health and nutrition, and lack of early stimulation.

“The Africa We Want: A Better Future Now” aims to strengthen advocacy for holistic approaches to early childhood development. It will see the launch of the African Union Commission’s Early Childhood Education and Development Cluster roadmap, and provide a platform to discuss the Nurturing Care Framework, launched during the World Health Assembly in May. With a program of interactive sessions, enlightening talks and inspiring debates this event will provide an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and the development of skills, with a strong focus on strengthening partnerships and building new collaborations.

Lynette Okengo, Executive Director of the Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN), says:

“The huge participation in this event, including everyone from high level Kenyan delegates to early childhood practitioners – from Mozambique to Liberia to Ethiopia - shows that early childhood development is truly on the agenda in Africa. If we are to reach our Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 we need a fully rounded approach to supporting children, families and communities.”

Need further information?Write to the Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN) at conference@africaecdnetwork.org

Registration and accreditation for a press pass?Please bring your media credentials and identification documents to The Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.


In recognition of the importance of the early years, WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, the Early Childhood Development Action Network and many other partners, have developed the Nurturing Care Framework that was launched during the World Health Assembly in May, 2018. The framework adopts a whole-society approach that guides families, policy makers, public and private practitioners on providing environments that will ensure that children not only survive but thrive and are able to play their part in transforming their communities (For further reading, visit here.) Implementation of the Nurturing Care Framework will play a critical role in advancing achievement of the SDGs 2030 and African Union Commission Agenda 2063.

AFRICA EARLY CHILDHOOD NETWORK:Africa Early Childhood Network is a professional network established in 2015 to serve as a platform for the promotion of excellence and collaboration in protecting children’s rights, influencing policy and practice through advocacy, strengthened partnership and sharing of experience and knowledge. AfECN, a regional coordination group, works closely with Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya.

On 4 September, 2018, AfECN was endorsed as Coordinator for African Union Commission’s (AUC’s) CESA ECED cluster. This was adopted during a convening by AU member states, Regional Economic Communities (REC’s) and key ECD stakeholders at the AUC headquarters in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, to launch the ECED Cluster. A

ECD NETWORK FOR KENYA (ECDNEK)Kenya recognizes that Early Childhood (0-8) years is the most rapid period of development in a human life, serving as the most important years for survival, growth and development. It is within these years that a child develops the building blocks for cognitive, social, moral and emotional development. A child is most vulnerable at this stage to the risks of malnutrition, toxic stress and lack of stimulation, which negatively affects brain architecture and compromises learning and performance in later years.

Kenya’s constitution, under Article 53, guarantees the rights of the child to free and compulsory basic education, nutrition, shelter, health care and protection. The national government has developed robust Early Childhood policy frameworks; service delivery, however, falls under the jurisdiction of each of Kenya’s 47 county governments. More efforts are needed to improve on coordination, human resource capacity development and financing the successful implementation of high-quality, affordable Early Childhood programs across the country.

In this regard, Ministry of Health’s Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health Unit convened the 2nd National ECD Stakeholders‛ Conference in partnership with Ministry of Education (MOE), and Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya (ECDNeK) three months ago. 260 delegates from 26 counties and over 50 organizations, government agencies at National level, UN agencies, private sector, Philanthropists, donor communities and academia congregated at Kenyatta University, Nairobi - Kenya, for the 2nd National Early Childhood Development (ECD) Stakeholders‛ Conference that was held on 25 - 26 July 2018, themed ‘Accelerating Early Childhood Development through partnerships’.

(Endorsed stakeholders communique of 26, July 2018 is attached)


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