Making the first 1000 days count in Ethiopia! Scaling up phase

In Ethiopia, most children, especially in rural communities, do not attend any Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) service and go directly to school at the age of 4. (Pre) primary education has a very academic focus and learning through play is not very common in the first grades. 

In 2018, ICDI with Ethiopian partner organization Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), started to promote an innovative, comprehensive approach to nurturing care, combining home visiting and centre-based programmes. It supports playful learning and responsive parenting activities for children under 4 and their caregivers. 

In February 2021, a new phase has started through which we will scale up our approach bringing it to new communities through the involvement of a new partner (Wabe Children’s Aid and Training – WCAT) and actively lobbying and advocating for embedding it in local and national policy.  



  1. Enhancing a sense of ownership in the whole community with respect to the health and psychosocial wellbeing of children aged 0-4.
  2. Improving health and social integration of children aged 0-4 through the increased availability of and access to health and education services for parents and children (including prenatal care).
  3. Enhancing and improve early learning and parent-child interaction for children aged 0-4 through strategies that enrich parental skills and practices.


  1. Expanding the approach to new communities in Ethiopia.
  2. Combine implementation with active lobby and advocacy towards local and national government to embed the model in policy and practice,
  3. Conducting a rigorous impact evaluation and scalability study to provide policy makers with relevant data and recommendations.


  • Non formal community-based ECEC initiatives (Play Hubs): Family friendly centres where young children access toys and educational activities, parents can participate in workshops and services can connect with each other.
  • Home visits: One-on-one consultations over a period of 4 months that put play and responsive parenting at the centre, offering caregivers access to important information and very practical tools they can use in day-to-day interactions with their young children.
  • Shared community ownership: Local Committees composed of parents, grandparents, community and religious leaders, health workers, ECEC practitioners and local authorities’ representatives, develop annual plans for the well-being of children 0-4 and monitor their targets in relation to prenatal care, postnatal care, nurturing, play and development.
  • Improved health and social integration of young children: aged 0-4 through the increased availability of and access to health and education services for parents and children (including prenatal care).

Expected impact

The project will reach in total:
• 1500 Children under 4 years old
• 400 Pregnant mothers and 1587 young women in reproductive age (per year)
• 2500 Families (incl. fathers, grandparents and older siblings)
• 3500 Community members
• 110 Local authorities’ representatives
• 10 ECEC/Health services
• 12 Representatives of regional and national governments
• 50 Other stakeholders

Facts and figures


Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Wabe Children’s Aid and Training (WCAT)


Stichting Dioraphte and other foundations

Project Manager

Giulia Cortellesi