Contributions of Early Childhood Development Programming to Sustainable Peace and Development
The purpose of this report is to merge insights from both micro and macro-level perspectives to demonstrate how ECD services can be leveraged to sustainable peace and development. While peacebuilding experts have traditionally focused on macro-level strategies such as government reform or economic rehabilitation interventions, ECD practitioners have focused primarily on micro-level interventions of individual children and families without much exploration of how ECD services can be leveraged to mitigate risks of conflict and transform relationships across communities and regions. In light of the United Nations Resolution 2427 recognizing that effects of conflict on children have “long-term consequences for durable peace, security, and development” (United Nations Security Council, 2018), there is clearly great opportunity and need to facilitate a fusion of the peacebuilding and ECD sectors.
A child's environment shapes their development and contributes to whether or not they become economically productive and prosocial adults. By intervening early and engaging with children’s families, ECD services offer a unique opportunity to make a cost-effective and sustainable impact on interrupting cycles of poverty and violence. Nevertheless, in order for ECD services to contribute to peacebuilding efforts, they cannot operate in silos focused only on the needs of individual children and families. Given that efforts towards sustainable peace must encompass all sectors and address all societal levels1 (United Nations and World Bank, 2017), there is a crucial need for implementing multi-level ECD services that center on the whole child and engage his or her surrounding ecological context. The purpose behind these comprehensive ECD services is to not only improve child development outcomes, but also to strengthen competencies in caregivers, address stressors and conflict drivers in the community and build institutional capacities to reduce structural violence. Without an integrated approach centering around children, evidence suggests that cycles of violence, poverty and adversity may continue for generations.