Global tea brand Tetley has pledged £650,000 to Unicef UK to implement an early childhood development programme in and around targeted tea estates in the Thyolo and Mulanje districts of Malawi, regions identified by UNICEF to have the greatest need for early childhood support services.

As part of the programme, two Early Childhood Development Centres will be built on selected tea estates. The Tetley funded centres will be the first UNICEF has introduced to tea estates in Malawi.

The new Early Childhood Development Centres will provide nutritious food, early years education and opportunities for stimulating play. These offerings are essential in a country where over one third of children are stunted[1], meaning their health, wellbeing and developmental potential is compromised, and where only 40 per cent of children aged three to five years are enrolled in early learning and care centres[2], most of which lack the resources and capacity to provide quality services.

The Early Childhood Development Centres will be run and managed by caregivers from local areas recruited and trained by UNICEF, to provide care and education through play.

Beyond establishing physical locations to provide early years care, the scope of the Tetley supported project will be broadened to include a wider engagement programme. In line with the UN Convention of the Rights of The Child and the 10 Global Child Rights and Business Practices, UNICEF will provide guidance to parents and caregivers on positive parenting and responsive caregiving practices. UNICEF will also engage with tea estate employers to help them understand the importance of children’s rights and how these apply to the workplace.

“Malawi is an important tea growing region,“ says Graeme Karavis, Managing Director for Tetley. “Bar Kenya, we buy more tea from Malawi than any other tea producing country and have been supporting projects in the area for many years.

“We’re really excited about this new partnership with Unicef UK and hope that the impact of the project will be felt immediately once the Early Childhood Development Centres are built and ready for use, and we look forward to helping achieve long term change for families and children, through the wider engagement programme.”

Sue Adams, Director of Corporate Partnerships at Unicef UK, said: “This partnership has the potential to benefit at least 2,000 children aged between 0 to five years, as well as an additional 6,000 people including pregnant and lactating women, parents, caregivers and adolescent mothers. It’s thanks to Tetley, that we are able to deliver this life-changing work for children and families and create meaningful and long-lasting change.”

[1] https://www.unicef.org/malawi/early-childhood-development

[2] https://www.unicef.org/malawi/media/1436/file/UNICEF%20Malawi%20Country%20Programme%20Document.pdf

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