Understanding the Impact of Early Childhood Development Investments in Tanzania

The Challenge

Many of the 8.5 million children under the age of 5 in Tanzania[1] are not reaching their developmental potential. Substantial evidence has shown that early childhood development (ECD) programs spanning education, child and social protection, and health and nutrition are needed by young children and their families. While the country has made dramatic progress in some areas, many challenges remain to ensure that children thrive. For example, only 32% of children were enrolled in pre-primary education in 2013. For those enrolled, quality of services is severely compromised by overcrowded classrooms and limited staff training.

Better Way Foundation (BWF) has invested in ECD programs to support young children and families in Tanzania for several years. Now, the Foundation seeks to understand the collective impact of its investments on its Tanzanian grantees, and identify ways to support grantees’ capacity to measure, understand, and share their impact.

The Opportunity

Momentum to support ECD in Tanzania is growing. BWF and its grantees have seized an opportunity to fill gaps in the public provision of high-quality early childhood services. By increasing access to preprimary education in rural areas, training community teachers, and instilling the importance of nutrition among parents, these organizations are working to ensure a healthy and successful future for children in Tanzania.

BWF also seeks to better understand how it can most effectively support the well-being of young children and their families in Tanzania, and enable grantees to make a greater impact.

Our Work

To help BWF and its grantees optimize their implementation of early childhood development programs in Tanzania, R4D carried out a rapid assessment of grant making activities and developed a plan to improve grantee monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) capacity. Key activities include:

  • Assessing the effectiveness of BWF’s grant making in Tanzania:Using data collected from desk research, in-country site visits, and interviews with staff at grantee organizations and other stakeholders working in the early childhood sector in Tanzania, R4D assessed BWF’s portfolio per the following dimensions: relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability, and impact.  R4D subsequently presented recommendations to strengthen BWF’s grant making approach.
  • Creating a MEL capacity development plan: After reviewing grantee MEL reports and conducting interviews with grantee staff, R4D developed a plan for the Foundation to support improvements in MEL systems for each of its grantees.  With stronger MEL systems, these organizations will be able to better track their impact, make well-informed programmatic decisions to alter and/or expand their current and future services, and share data with funders and governments to advocate for support for themselves and the ECD sector more broadly.
  • Direct support to BWF and its grantees in boosting MEL capacity: R4D has worked directly with BWF and its grantees to strengthen their MEL systems and activities.

In 2017, R4D collaborated with BWF to develop a Theory of Change that articulates its strategy of support for early childhood development in Tanzania. Currently, R4D is supporting BWF to develop a set of portfolio-level indicators that will be used to capture the impact of its grantees.

Our team will also provide hands-on technical assistance to grantees on specific MEL system strengthening activities, such as the development of MEL plans and revision of MEL indicators. R4D is conducting a MEL training series for all of BWF’s grantees in Tanzania on topics such as understanding basic MEL frameworks and quantitative data collection and analysis.

[1] United Nations Population Division.

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