Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Path of Most Resilience

I am currently coordinating the revison of a Position Paper for the Early Childhood Care and Development in Emergencies Working Group (EEWG). The following is an excerpt from the Executive Summary. The final paper will be widely available this summer.

"The Path of Most Resilience" describes an integrated, holistic approach for assisting children affected by emergencies. This Working Paper serves as a starting point, an opportunity to outline foundational principles of the field of early childhood care and development (ECCD) in emergencies.

While the progress toward standardisation of child protection and well-being principles has been remarkable, more needs to be done. Despite the plethora of guidelines and standards, no single document specifically and holistically targets parameters of assistance for young children and their caregivers, families, and communities in emergencies. Emergencies can be considered a ‘window of opportunity’ to introduce ECCD provision and concepts where none existed before. Therefore it is crucial that quality programming, adherence to good practice, and development of minimum standards are a major priority for emergency ECCD response. What is required goes beyond ensuring that humanitarian aid efforts include ECCD programming. Policy makers must rethink the way the emergency response is carried out so that the rights and needs of young children and their families are fully recognised and centred in humanitarian relief. Continued coordinated efforts must be made to make interventions effective and accountable, strengthen collective advocacy, and develop concrete policy and programmatic frameworks to prioritise ECCD as a core intervention in crisis settings.Developing this document has been a collaborative process by an inter-agency partnership of actors: a body recognised as both a Working Group of the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development (CGECCD) and as a Task Team of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). The Early Childhood Care and Development in Emergencies Working Group (EEWG) includes more than 100 organizations and individuals working in early childhood, emergencies, and other related fields, including INEE and the Agency Learning Network on the Care and Protection of Children in Crisis-Affected Countries (CPC Learning Network) through the Global Technical Group on Early Childhood (convened by the EEWG). The EEWG is set up to analyse and synthesise information gathered from research, case studies, successful practices, and tools from the field of ECCD and emergencies. This information will be used to:

  • Develop tools and publications and disseminate this information to global actors and stakeholders in ECCD and emergencies.
  • Advocate for improved investments, policies, and commitment to action related to young children in emergency situations.
  • Raise awareness around the importance of including ECCD programming in emergency situations to meet the diverse needs of children in each phase of the emergency, from emergency preparedness and planning to an actual emergency, transition, and recovery.
  • Inform capacity development of stakeholders in ECCD and emergencies to effectively act for children in these settings.
The EEWG is well placed to actively support capacity building, networking, and advocacy efforts to encourage greater recognition and understanding of the role of ECCD in emergencies as a central tool in saving lives and protecting young children’s development and well-being. The INEE is a global, open network of NGOs, UN agencies, donors, practitioners, researchers, and individuals from affected populations working together within a humanitarian and development framework to ensure the right to education in emergencies and post-crisis reconstruction. In coordination with the INEE Minimum Standards Task Team ( and in response to a growing need for a consolidated practical tool reflecting recent developments in the field of ECCD, the EEWG is updating The Good Practice Guide (based on findings and principles outlined in this document) for those who work in emergency settings.

The first section of this Working Paper presents the situation and rationale: Emergencies pose invisible and visible challenges for young children in already difficult situations. In emergencies, young children are at increased risk of separation from primary caregivers, all forms of abuse and violence, long-term negative emotional and psychological effects, and physical, intellectual, emotional and social disabilities. Of most concern in emergency settings is that young children's developmental needs and well-being are often neglected, with serious consequences for their growth and survival. “ECCD Programming Principles and Guidelines” discusses how the Consultative Group on ECCD’s 4 Cornerstones to Secure a Strong Foundation for Young Children might be interpreted and adapted for work in emergency settings. Other ECCD programming principles that guide the CG’s work are presented. Coordinated action among a range of sectors – Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene; Health; Nutrition; Education; and Protection – is vital to effectively care for young children in emergencies. The third section of this Working Paper emphasises the cross-cutting nature of ECCD programming and indicates potential areas for integrating ECCD activities into emergency humanitarian interventions. Cross-cutting issues of gender, disabilities, and HIV/AIDS are considered in section 4. The document concludes with "A Call to Action" outlining challenges and opportunities as the ECCD in Emergencies agenda is moved forward, as well as a specific action plan on future activities.

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