Jorge Muñoz had long championed efforts to improve the lives of children in his relatively well-off district of Peru’s capital city, Lima. In 2019, he had a chance to take some of his ideas to scale. As newly elected mayor of metropolitan Lima, a city of almost 11 million, he oversaw basic services for about a third of the country’s population. At the time, a fifth of Peru’s population lived in poverty, and one in three people lived in informal settlements, where supporting families to give infants and toddlers a healthy start on life presented many challenges. The mayor directed the metropolitan government’s Social Development Department and a small interdisciplinary team of architects and social scientists (1) to identify lessons learned from pilot projects, (2) to establish new ways of assisting infants and young children, and (3) to coordinate to get the job done. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the capital city in 2020, the metropolitan government and its team continued this work, using some of their newly created systems to respond to the larger challenge of caring for vulnerable populations during months of emergency lockdown measures. The national government labeled Lima’s program, which engaged residents in project development, as a promising model for helping local governments implement a countrywide strategy for the promotion of early childhood development.
Miguelángel Verde drafted this case study with the help of Tyler McBrien based on interviews conducted in Lima, Peru, during 2020 and 2021. Case published August 2021. The Bernard van Leer Foundation supported this case study to foster early-stage policy learning.