Multi-sectoral alliance for nutrition through early childhood development in Colombia

Lead Organization


Bogotá, Distrito Capital de Bogotá, Colombia

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Project Summary

Colombia has passed a law that made the financing of ECD for 2,200,000 vulnerable children a responsibility of the state. The government has managed to reach 1,374,423 children; leaving 800,000+ children outside of the ECD program. Government funding for infant nutrition under ECD is less than $1 p/day for 4 meals. The government is aware that the true cost of delivery is an additional 30 to 50 cents USD p/day which leaves the operator with the decision to reduce the quality of the service or assume the additional cost. Coomacovalle has over 18 years experience in delivering comprehensive ECD services, closing an annual US$1 million funding gap with 8000+ children in their care. The Alliance will scale this model to 24,000+ of the most vulnerable children (0-18 months) nationally, also giving mothers the chance to go to work.

Problem Statement

Investments in high-quality early care and education for children from birth to kindergarten entry are critical to positive child development. These investments benefit not only children and their families but also society at large. Unfortunately, a large share of children currently don’t have access to high-quality programs because the cost of providing access to affordable, early care and education for all children far exceeds current funding amounts. The funding gap is leaving more than 800,000 children without access to the program as well as leaving all children under the age of two without access to the services. The program includes a nutrition component that fulfills 70% of the daily nutrition for children. While the ECD program is law in Colombia, the government has recently reduced the budget putting at risk the development for 800,000+ children. The budgetary gap for this program is estimated at $800 million annually. The operational deficit that ECD service providers have to cover (by reducing services or lowering the quality of services) is estimated at another additional $98 million per year. A recent study from the Inter-American Development Bank reported that the cost of inaction for ECD programs in Colombia represents 1.1% of GDP ($309 billion USD).As the UN Secretary General urges developing countries to implement innovative finance solutions to help fill the gap to finance needs and opportunities, government agencies are starting to learn about these new models with our local partner and global partner Concordia.

Solution Overview

Multisector action for the delivery of ECD program requires deliberate action and investment to unlock opportunities. Both Nutrition and ECD share common capacity constraints for horizontal coordination which often raise concerns for effective implementation. Partners in the alliance have agreed that focusing on the access gap for children (800,000+) under the age of two years old, will generate the most impact. Building on our work to implement a Social Impact Bond from the onset will instill long-term sustainability and secure private funding, the solution has assessed areas of focus where more impact will be created.As 80% of the population reside in large cities, we expect to be able to close the access gap (children under the age of 2) within the first five years. The Social Bond will be fully functional, allowing for sustainability in co-financing needs and opportunities associated with a 100% coverage of ECD for all children under the age of five. As nutrition represents 30% of the operational cost, the Hybrid Value Chain (HVC) developed with the food sector will be operating at the national level; increasing effectiveness in cost to operate the ECD program. The HVC will help families provide the 30% nutritional value that is required outside of the program.Our solution provides multiple benefits in providing ECD access to those currently left outside of the program, connecting small farm-holders with low-income families, providing opportunities for mothers to return to school and/or work, as well as creating formal employments in low-income areas.

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Project Funders

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2018 - 2019
  • ICBF (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar) 2019
  • ICBF (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar) 2018

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