There is a need for counties to set aside funds for early childhood development (ECD) activities so that children can fully develop their potential.
Speaking in Kajiado while disseminating findings of a study done to evaluate the status of ECD systems in Kajiado, Nairobi, Siaya, and Mombasa counties, the National Coordinator for Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya (ECDNeK) Dr. Teresa Mwoma said that many counties have failed in terms of financing for early childhood development activities and are having challenges in funding for five components of nurturing care to the young learners.
The five components comprise children’s health, education, safety, and security, nutrition and responsive parenting.
“From the study, we have found out that counties do not have ring-fenced funds that support activities that support children’s health. In the Ministry of Health for example, we realize that budgeting is done based on preventive, Promotive, and curative programs but no budget focuses specifically on children and as a network, we are saying that it is critical to ensure that the county governments make ring-fenced budgets that go towards children activities,” said Dr. Mwoma
She also noted that there are gaps that need to be addressed in the governance, policy, finance, and Multi-sectoral coordination to enhance the provision of nurturing care to children aged 0-3 years.
“In terms of policy, we realized that when devolution happened, the national government remained with the policy-making function, and between the years 2021-2023 three legislations have been enacted and we are eagerly waiting to see how they will be implemented,” said Dr. Mwoma.
On his part, Kajiado’s County Executive Committee member(CECM) for Education Jeremiah Ole Ncharo noted that Kajiado will increase the budget for its feeding program from the current Sh.20 million to Sh.40 million.
“Every year, we have budgeted for the feeding programme especially fortified porridge in our ECD centers. Many children are enrolling at the centers courtesy of the porridge which has also improved the children’s nutrition, especially during the recent drought,” said Ole Ncharo.
Dr. Jackton Ochola, the CECM for agriculture said that his department is working hard to ensure that schools have sustainable feeding programs which are being encouraged in all counties.
To gain insights on the ECD systems in Kenya, the ECD network for Kenya with support from the Hilton Foundation, has been participating in the ECD systems evaluation and measurement project that is being conducted in three Hilton Foundation countries namely Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique since March 2022.
By Diana Meneto