Effects of Two Early Childhood Interventions on the Developmental Outcomes of Children in Post-Earthquake Nepal

The Journal on Education in Emergencies

Natural disasters pose immense challenges to young children by exposing them to a high degree of adversity during a critical period. Interventions designed to build resilience in the aftermath of natural disasters may help buffer the negative consequences of these adverse experiences. In this article, we report the results of our quasi-experimental evaluations of two interventions designed by Save the Children to improve children’s developmental outcomes and parental engagement. These interventions provided resources across eco-developmental levels to young survivors of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk district. The first was a caregiver-focused intervention aimed at improving early stimulation, responsive caregiving, and positive parenting skills for children ages 0-3; the other was an ECD center and facilitator-focused intervention aimed at improving the quality of learning environments, family engagement, and psychosocial supports for children 3-6 years old. We found that the interventions had a mixed impact. The age 0-3 components had no detectable effect on developmental outcomes. The age 3-6 components had a positive impact on children’s early learning and development, particularly their preacademic skills. Neither intervention improved parental engagement. We highlight the challenges of implementing family-focused interventions in emergency contexts and the importance of the delivery agents in ECD programs. These evaluations demonstrate that bolstering the quality of early learning environments and the skills of ECD facilitators can have a meaningful impact on child-level outcomes, even in postdisaster and emergency settings.

Author: Jonathan Seiden, Valeria Kunz, Sara Dang, Matrika Sharma, and Sagar Gyawali
Organization: Save the Children
Date: June 1, 2021
Country: Nepal