Ahlan Simsim


This project is one of the 2023 WISE Awards finalists. 

For millions of children across MENA, conflict and crisis marked the most formative years of their lives with displacement, chaos, and violence, negatively impacting their intellectual and social-emotional development and threatening long-term economic prosperity, health and well-being. Evidence shows that ECD interventions are crucial in helping children and their families thrive and overcome traumatic experiences.

With funding from MacArthur and LEGO foundations, Sesame Workshop (SW) and the IRC launched the Ahlan Simsim project in 2018 aimed at improving all domains of early childhood development, including social-emotional and academic skills.

Solution and Approach

Ahlan Simsim integrates SW’s educational resources, including the TV show, with sustainable and locally owned program models delivered by IRC and local partners, while strengthening existing national systems. Programs and services support children and adults around them from caregivers to service providers; they can be delivered in informal and formal settings, remote and in-person modalities, by IRC, local civil society, and governments. Through a robust learning and advocacy agenda, we also seek to understand and inform others about the impact of holistic ECD programming on children.

Impact and Future Development

Our teams employ various learning methods to measure impact including evaluations, research and prototyping, content review and cost analysis. We are collaborating with New York University (NYU) to evaluate the impact of mass media and programming, and early indicate positive outcomes for children will be shared publicly to contribute to understanding what works in ECD.

We are investing in visibility, advocacy, growth and fundraising and designing future program ideas in current and new geographies. We are focusing on getting the word out about what we’re doing and learning, with the aim of raising the profile of ECD in the humanitarian response and ramping up efforts to influence donors and humanitarian actors to prioritize ECD and how it should be done to achieve the best outcomes.

April 17, 2023 (last update 04-17-2023)