What We Do

ECDIlifa Labantwana is an innovative and ambitious national Early Childhood Development programme set up in 2009.

Ilifa was established as a strategic partnership between the DG Murray Trust, the ELMA Foundation and the UBS Optimus Foundation as a response to a strategic opportunity to address key gaps in access to ECD programmes in South Africa.

As one of our partners put it,

“The formation of Ilifa Labantwana – and the significant injection of funding its diverse donors – has assisted in creating momentum around ECD in a context where there have been significant lags. This momentum, in turn, has the potential to serve as a catalyst to the state and other non-governmental organisations in the sector to upscale integrated ECD services in a collective and collaborative manner.”

In Phase I (2009 – 2013), Ilifa concentrated on testing and demonstrating scalable, cost-effective models of intervention in order to achieve population coverage for marginalised and poverty affected communities. In doing so, Ilifa succeeded not only in bringing attention to issues of quality, access and equity, but also to home and community-based interventions.

During this period, Ilifa was able to feed into the development of the new national ECD policy and programme, providing knowledge and support to the teams commissioned by UNICEF on behalf of the national Department of Social Development.

Ilifa is currently in its second phase of implementation (2013-2016) with the additional support of the FNB Fund. Ilifa’s focus has shifted to providing implementation evidence, building national capacity and galvanising political support to provide quality ECD services at scale, with a particular focus on the poorest 40% of the population under 6 years of age.

Read more about our activities or watch the video below:


Click for Ilifa’s Phase 1 2009-2013 Strategy→
Click for Ilifa’s Phase 2 2013-2016 Strategy→


Implementing Partners