- Emergency Assistance through Early Childhood Development (ECD)
- DWN’s ECD Emergency Programme
- Feeding and Nutrition
- Teacher Training
- Parent Workshops
- Learning Materials and Stationery
- Responding to COVID-19
- GIS Monitoring
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE THROUGH EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT (ECD)
In the current crisis, children are likely to suffer the most. Namibia’s economic downturn is being felt especially hard by Namibia’s poor, such as many residents in the informal settlements. Evidence suggests that severe economic stress on poor households is resulting in more mal- and undernutrition and domestic violence.
ECD Centres (or Kindergartens) have proven an effective and important mechanism to shield vulnerable children from the worst effects of the current emergency. They bring stability to a child’s day, provide a playful environment, and a nutritious meal.
During the lockdowns in 2020, DWN initiated an ECD programme with exactly this objective: to support children in a time of emergency, and at the same time strengthen the ECD system with a long term development perspective.
DWN’S ECD EMERGENCY PROGRAMME
DWN currently provides critical support to almost 8 000 children in 229 ECD centres. These ECD centres are located in informal settlements in Windhoek, Oshakati, Opuwo, Otjiwarongo, Katima Mulilo and Omaruru. The programme activities are funded by UNICEF/EU and MTC (and Osino Namibia Holdings in Omaruru), through separate but co-ordinated projects.
The project is implemented by a DWN core team of eight staff members, plus external ECD experts and more than 15 locally contracted trainers. Activities in the different regions are supervised by the local DWN offices.
Over the last two months, DWN has initiated a feeding programme for 135 ECD centres with some 5 500 children, provided training to 176 ECD teachers/educarers, printed and distributed 35 000 copies of child stories, and handed over 17 000 items of stationery. Even when COVID-19 restrictions require ECD centres to close, the centres continue to distribute learning materials and food.
FEEDING AND NUTRITION
In May, DWN designed a cash-based feeding programme for 135 ECD centres in Windhoek, with more than 5 500 children. With generous support from FNB, bank accounts were opened for all centres, and debit cards issued. Cash is now being sent to ECD centres on a monthly basis, with the amount depending on the number of children. The feeding component is funded by UNICEF/EU.
Teacher/parents committees are formed in all ECD centres, and the committees are provided with detailed nutritional guidance and how to record expenditures. A DWN monitoring team visits each centre several times per week, checks on the nutritional value of weekly feeding plans, expenditure recording and hygiene. The accounting component of this activity has been closely designed with DWN’s chartered accountant.
Making a feeding programme cash based is muchmore cost efficient than food distribution, where largeamounts are usually spent on transport and logistics. A cash-based system is also easily scalable and can be expanded to other areas (in Windhoek) and regions.
An unexpected secondary effect of the feeding programme was also observed: with a meal to receive, there is a much higher tendency for parents to keep their children enrolled during lockdowns and continue paying the monthly fee, therefore sustaining ECD teacher’s livelihoods.
Since late April, DWN has implemented 16 ECD teacher trainings for 275 teachers/educarers across Namibia. Weekly trainings will resume as soon as lockdown measures allow, for a total of some 750 teachers. The training materials are fully aligned with government ECD guidelines, and have been developed by DWN staff and private sector ECD experts.
Parent support workshops were developed that engage parents on the importance of holistic child development, positive discipline, and conscious parenting. These workshops have been attended by 194 parents thus far, and will be re-initiated as soon as lockdown measures are eased.
LEARNING MATERIALS AND STATIONERY
Many children in informal settlements have limited access to storybooks. DWN has printed 33 500 copies of stories adapted from the African Storybook Project. These stories have been printed and distributed in English, Oshindonga, Otjiherero, and siLozi and are accompanied by home-based learning activities.
More than 17 000 items of stationery have been distributed to ECD centres including paper, crayons, paint, paint brushes, scissors and glue. These materials allow for expressive, creative learning activities.
RESPONDING TO COVID-19
Each teacher of the 229 ECD centres has received two masks and two litres of hand-sanitizer. Equally, toilets will be built for 15 ECD centres in Windhoek, and tippy taps installed where they do not yet exist.
All ECD centres are registered with a GPS position and can be viewed online on DWN’s datahub: https://development-workshop-data-hub-dwn.hub.arcgis.com/.
Information on the ECD centres is continuously updated. By clicking on an ECD centre in theonline app, all information of that specificcentres pops up in a window.