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ECD Regional Networks: Stories of Success in 2023

The four Regional ECD Networks have set the stage for advancing early childhood development through providing critical infrastructure that connects diverse sectors and stakeholders. This blog post will look at some success  stories from 2023 and how the Regional Networks with the support of the ECRN Fund contributed to advancing the ECD ecosystem.


First Regional Forum in Cairo
With the support of the ECRN Fund, ANECD held its first regional forum, titled “Caring for Young Children in a Turbulent World: Development Strategies in Arab Countries”, from September 8 to 10th in Cairo, Egypt. The forum was hosted by the Arab Council for Childhood and Development and attended by over 60 members and representatives from various sectors involved in Early Childhood Development from 13 Arab countries. The main focus of the Forum was to identify strategic directions for ECD in the face of multiple crises affecting Arab countries, and to set priorities for the next 3-5 years. Laying the foundation for continued collaboration between different actors to improve the well-being of young children in the Arab region, the forum included policy visions, cooperative initiatives and research presentations, all emphasizing the importance of advocating for children’s rights. An important outcome was the confirmation of the role of ANECD and its partners in supporting research programmes on Early Childhood Development throughout the region.
This very successful gathering represents a significant milestone in ANECD’s capacity to mobilise and engage key actors across the region.
You can read more about the Forum here.
Launch of the Arab Working Group for ECD Research
In May 2023, in Amman, Jordan, ANECD launched the "Arab Working Group for ECD Research". With the participation of researchers from Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, the working group identified the main focus areas as: mapping previous ECD research, capacity building, advocacy, lobbying and knowledge production. The group also outlined future steps towards strengthening ECD research in the region. These included:
  • Establishing and developing a database of ECD studies;
  • Building on and expanding the work of national ECD committees by networking with researchers in the working group;
  • Work on development of the budget for the Climate Change Strategic Research Model;
  • Develop Terms of Reference (ToR) for early childhood programs in Arab countries.
The meeting was also attended by staff from the ECRN Fund, who got an opportunity to learn more about ANECD´s work and meet the research committee.
You can read more about the workshop here
Read more about the ANECD National Working groups in Arab countries and other activities in the newly published annual report 2022-2023.


Stressing the interlinkages between ECD and Climate Change
In 2023, ARNEC made significant progress advancing advocacy priorities, particularly exposing negative impacts of climate change on the development and well-being of young children and their families in the Asia-Pacific region and stressing how investments in early childhood development is a pathway to resilience-building and ensuring sustainable human development.
ARNEC, with the support of regional partners and members, developed awareness-raising and communications packages signifying how young children are the most vulnerable to climate impacts and also the most valuable in building resilience through holistic and inclusive ECD investments.
Creating better understanding of the interlinkages of early childhood and climate change meant ARNEC mobilising learning forums, webinars, and campaigns at the regional level last year, spotlighting context-specific risks young children face in households and communities at the country level and amplifying in global spaces, such as COP28 and other convenings, the voice of young children and their experiences and conditions of vulnerability and marginalization.
Moreover, ARNEC collaborated with partners to produce:
  • four micro studies in Bhutan, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines demonstrating the nexus of ECD and climate change in diverse contexts at the country-level;
  • ECD-Climate resources to assist key stakeholders in initiating country-level awareness-raising and campaigns;
  • COP28 ECD-Climate Resource Pack;
  • strategic policy events to elevate ECD-Climate agenda at regional and global levels.
Convening a Learning Forum in the Philippines
Support from the ECRN Fund has also helped ARNEC to strengthen its role as convener and facilitator in the region.
In August 2023, ARNEC held its first post-pandemic, face-to-face learning forum in Cebu, the Philippines. This event, entitled ‘Connecting and collaborating for holistic ECD agenda in the Asia-Pacific region,’ brought together around 80 participants from 17 countries, including ARNEC members, CSOs and Government Ministries.
The purpose of the forum was to share and learn from each other’s insights and practice on responsive caregiving and playful parenting, ECD and climate resilience, strengthening the early childhood workforce, and championing multisectoral approaches to ECD. The learning forum was a great opportunity to expand the partnership with different ECD national networks and government bodies.
An important outcome from the forum is a greater commitment to supporting the work of ARNEC in highlighting the holistic nature of ECD and the emerging climate crisis. Details of the ARNEC Learning Forum are found here.


Greater Visibility through Engagement with the African Union
During 2023, AfECN has intensified its advocacy at continental level and engagement with the African Union (AU). Recognising the importance of a cross-sectoral approach to Early Childhood Development (ECD), AfECN continues to collaborate with the AU in coordinating the ECED Cluster and on the creation of the multi-sectoral AU Nurturing Care Task Force with representation from all key departments. The role of this Task Force is to coordinate and advocate for inclusion of nurturing care within ongoing initiatives and wider continental campaigns. With support from the ECRN Fund, a senior full-time staff has been seconded to the AU offices in Addis Ababa, providing advocacy and coordination support to the Task Force. This increased capacity has enabled AfECN’s engagement to move from bilateral conversations to more impactful multisectoral collaboration.
You can read more about AfECN´s regional advocacy work here.
Research Mentorship Programme
The lack of empirical evidence to guide programme design and policy interventions impedes the advancement of early childhood development in the Africa region. Recognising this challenge, the provision of support to African scholars working at the intersection of research, policy and practice is a strategic priority for AfECN. In 2023, AfECN designed and successfully implemented a Research Mentorship Programme aimed at building implementation research capacity on the continent. The programme includes provision of research grants and linking early and mid-career researchers with well-established global ECD scholars and ECD practitioners. These collaborations are continuing and have incentivised the formation of various regional research communities of practice throughout the continent.
Here you can find out more about AfECN´s research programme.


The power of a network to make a difference for young children: Examples from ISSA
Stronger focus on creating sustainable and supportive environments for young children and their care-givers has never been more crucial. Acting as a catalyst that sparks change within local contexts in Europe and Central Asia, the ISSA Network supports the roll-out of effective solutions to complex problems. ISSA Members have access to the advantages of being part of a network, tapping into mechanisms that suppport resilience and capacity building in times of crisis. This blog shares two of many examples of the ISSA Network’s successful impact in 2023 – ISSA’s roll-out of the Primokiz Programme and the network’s coordinated response to support children and families impacted by the war in Ukraine.
The Primokiz Programme
Last year marked a pivotal moment for ISSA with the successful roll-out of the Primokiz programme in several countries. By working directly with local governments, the Primokiz programme builds a sustainable local infrastructure of knowledge and capacity for developing and implementing responsive and comprehensive early childhood strategies.
At its core, the Primokiz programme is a celebration of local capacity and leadership. Primokiz takes on a highly participatory process rooted in the local context, that mobilizes and connects the political commitment with the local expertise and resources, and the needs of the children and families in the communities. Grounded in key arguments for investing in early childhood services, the Primokiz methodology offers a structured seven-phased process for building local leadership and ownership over the development and implementation of needs-based strategic measures to improve local early childhood services across sectors. The feedback from cities was very positive and showed that Primokiz can have tremendous impact on local-level services for young children.
Here you can find out more about this comprehensive approach.
Ukraine Response
The ISSA Network, bolstered by support from the ECRN Fund, has not only sustained but amplified its role as a hub for knowledge and a bridge of support. The year 2023 was a testament to the network’s collective resilience, marked by a rapid and consistent response to the war in Ukraine .
As the war moved into its second year, the Secretariat continued to support local member organisations with capacity building, fundraising, and making connections to donors and agencies operating in their areas. Since the first day of the war, the ISSA Network has mobilised to support young children and their families, both in Ukraine and in countries receiving refugees. A key lesson learned from these interventions, is that despite a large mobilisation of resources, it remains challenging to provide immediate and appropriate responses on the ground. Given its available technical expertise, expansive connections and local footprint, the ISSA Network has been able to move quickly to successfully address the needs of children, families, ECD professionals and communities impacted by the war in Ukraine.
On this page you can find a rich set of resources and materials for those working with children of Ukraine, as well as for parents and caregivers. Available in multiple languages, these resources are relevant to other parts of the world where young children are affected by crisis.
By embracing a multi-sectoral, multi-faceted strategy, the ISSA Network’s efforts extend beyond meeting immediate needs to building robust local communities capable of withstanding future challenges. The ability of ISSA Members to utilize the network's advantage underscores the effectiveness of collective action, facilitating rapid and impactful responses when most needed. The support from the Secretariat in enhancing this resilience and mobilization of capacity underscores a commitment to proactive and participatory action for the well-being of children and families. Countless stories of impact and collaboration inspire ISSA’s further efforts towards creating environments where every child has the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive.