INEE Network Spaces

Early Childhood Development Working Group

T Todras Whitehill-IRC
© T Todras Whitehill, IRC

There is an urgent need to prioritize and invest in young children and caregivers in crises. In 2018, 29 million babies – almost 1 in 5 babies globally – were born into conflict affected areas. The adverse impacts of conflict and displacement are especially salient during the early years of life, when a child’s rapidly developing brain is exceptionally sensitive to environmental influence. Early Childhood Development (ECD) services in humanitarian and fragile settings are integral to ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five, supporting healthy brain development in young children, and driving economic recovery and peacebuilding in communities and countries. However, ECD is not well represented in humanitarian response plans, and where it is, implementation of each component is inconsistent and lacks coordination.


The ECD Working Group aims to serve as a community of practice for front-line providers, field managers, technical staff and other relevant stakeholders working in the field of ECD in Emergencies and Humanitarian Settings with the following objectives:

  • Serve as a key public resource for understanding current programs and policies related ECD in emergencies and humanitarian settings
  • Develop and disseminate practical tools and publications for use by global actors and stakeholders in ECD in emergencies and humanitarian settings with the aim of improving programs and policies
  • Identify the needs for capacity development of relevant stakeholders to improve programs and policies for young children and families with young children in emergencies and humanitarian settings
  • Support advocacy efforts for improved investments, policies, and commitments to action related to young children in emergencies and humanitarian settings


The INEE ECD Working Group is open to anyone who is interested in issues around early childhood in contexts of crisis and fragility. If you are interested in participating in this Task Team, please send an introductory email to the ECD-WG email address ( indicating your interest. If you are interested in this work but are not yet a member of INEE, please join us.

Current Activities

A Oberstadt
© A Oberstadt, IRC

In 2019, the ECD Working Group was revitalised, and conveners developed a 4-year work plan which includes a comprehensive scoping of ECD in humanitarian contexts, a Programming Guidance Toolkit for ECD in humanitarian settings. The global analysis of the current state of ECD programming in humanitarian settings was be conducted in 2020, to gain a comprehensive understanding of existing resources, methodologies, tools, approaches, budget allocations, needs, gaps and capacity to deliver ECD in emergencies across sectors and agencies. Results of the analysis will inform the development of a Toolkit.

Members of the Task Team also accentuated the need for ECD in Emergencies through high-level advocacy events in 2019, targeting governments, UN agencies, NGOs and businesses, such as around the UN High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development in July, the UN General Assembly in September, and the Global Refugee Forum in December.   

Key Resources


  • Charlotte Cole, Blue Butterfly
  • Nada Elattar, UNICEF

Contact the ECD WG co-chairs at