Children develop 80% of their brain during the first thousand days of their lives. Their capacity to learn and bond with a parent starts from even before birth.
The County Government of Siaya in Kenya partnered with IDEO.org to create a campaign that would build caregivers’ understanding of responsive care at this early stage.
The result was a multi-channel campaign focused on engaging male caregivers, in addition to young moms, siblings, and grandparents in learning about responsive caregiving. Its core messaging shows just how easy it can be to incorporate brain-building rituals into daily routines—including ways to play, talk, and hold children from day one.
During the design research phase, the team found that many caregivers do not feel a need to develop learning foundations with really young children. This is particularly true of male caregivers, who are seen as material providers and not expected to interact with the child until they’re older.
We also witnessed the role of trusted community influencers in setting the social norms of the community—from religious leaders, to village elders, to boda boda group leaders. When these influencers were able to explain the importance of male caregivers’ early involvement towards a baby’s development, fathers immediately became more receptive and even came up with ideas of how to spend time interacting with their children.
Following this phase, over the course of several months, we tested early campaign concepts to understand the kind of language and visuals that would resonate and engage them most on topics of responsive caregiving. That’s how Nyathi En Mwandu (‘A Child is Wealth’ in Swahili) emerged.
The Nyathi En Mwandu campaign’s tagline is “Miye mise motegno Chon,” which means “Give them a strong foundation early.” The campaign addresses the gap in active involvement of male caregivers in their children’s day-to-day upbringing.
Today, Nyathi En Mwandu has gained awareness across all sub counties in Siaya (Ugunja, Rarieda, Ugenya, Alego Usonga, Gem and Bondo) and follow-up interviews have shown that many male caregivers are becoming more mindful of serve and return cues.