New Delhi, Aug 16 (PTI) Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday said it has approved a USD 40.5-million loan for integrated early childhood development (ECD) and maternal mental health programme in Meghalaya.
The state government is contributing USD 15.27 million to the project, the multilateral funding agency said in a statement.
The project will strengthen home-based childcare (children 0–1.5 years) and centre-based childcare (1.5–6 years) through daycare (Anganwadi) centres in Meghalaya, it said.
The project aims to improve access to nurturing care, including a component of maternal mental healthcare and group-based parenting programmes to enable the inclusion of fathers in caregiving, it said.
ADB’s assistance will also improve nutrient adequacy by adding eggs to the diet of pregnant and lactating women and children aged 0.5–6 years, it said.
As one of several climate-resilient features, the project will also help establish nutrition gardens at Anganwadi centres (AWC) for improved diet diversity and nutrition security, it said.
“The first early years — including especially the first 1,000 days — are critical to a child’s growth and development. Providing ample nutrition and nurturing care early on and enabling both parents are essential to building a strong growth foundation for a child. At the heart of childcare are mothers, making it important to ensure they have the needed health services and support,” said ADB Principal Health Specialist Dinesh Arora.
“ADB is committed to supporting the state government’s efforts to mainstream ECD and in adopting this innovative project design that can be scaled up across the country,” he said.
A USD 2-million technical assistance grant from the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific will help develop guidelines and training curricula for AWC staff and ECD educators, it said.
“A new state resource centre for the developing child will be also established to serve as a centre of excellence for ECD services. ADB will carry out a first-of-its-kind large scale evaluation to assess the effectiveness of integrated ECD interventions in a lower middle-income country to inform national and global childcare policies,” it said.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members — 49 from the region.