The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a USD 40.5 million loan for integrated early childhood development and maternal mental health in the North Eastern State of Meghalaya, the multilateral bank said in a release.
The Meghalaya Government is contributing USD 15.27 million to the project.
The project is expected to strengthen home-based childcare (children 0–1.5 years) and centre-based childcare (1.5–6 years) through daycare (Anganwadi) centres in Meghalaya.
The project aims to improve access to nurturing care, including a component of maternal mental health care and group-based parenting programs to enable the inclusion of fathers in caregiving.
ADB’s assistance will also improve nutrient adequacy by adding eggs to the diet of pregnant and lactating women and children 0.5–6 years of age.
“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 (early childhood development) ECD and in adopting this innovative project design that can be scaled up across the country,” Dinesh Arora added.
The release said that the ADB-supported project will upgrade 1,800 Anganwadi centres and construct around 600 new ones in hard-to-reach areas.
(with inputs from ANI)