ParentApp for the Early Years in Tanzania

About this project

copy of gpi brand maps tanzania yellow
  January 2023 - December 2025
Principal Investigators Prof Mark Tomlinson and A/Prof Sarah Skeen (Stellenbosch University, South Africa), Dr Joyce Wamoyi (Tanzania National Institute for Medical Research)
Research Team Lynette Mudekunye and Edwick Mapalala (Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative, South Africa), Marguerite Marlow (Stellenbosch University).
Partners  Tanzanian National Institute for Medical Research, Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) and their community-based partners; and Clowns Without Borders South Africa.


This multi-phase study aims to develop ParentApp for Kids and assess its feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness on responsive caregiving and child development. This study will benefit parents and caregivers and their children falling between pregnancy and 9 years of age.


Supporting caregivers to foster nurturing, playful relationships with their children is an important strategy to mitigate developmental risks and promote positive outcomes for children. New modes of reaching and supporting caregivers are essential for when traditional face-to-face parenting programmes are not available. As smart phones are becoming increasingly commonly used in low and middle-income countries, there is a growing opportunity to use digital applications to provide caregivers with information, guidance, and support in caregiving. Importantly, by targeting a broad age range from pregnancy to 9 years old, we hope to develop a tool that can sustain support for caregivers beyond the first 1000 days, and into middle and late childhood.


  1. Develop a digital parenting application, ParentApp, for use by caregivers from pregnancy to age 9 years, to improve responsive caregiving and child development.

  2. Develop and pilot a new measure to assess caregiver responsiveness in caregiver-child interactions that can be administered and scored remotely.

  3. Assess feasibility and acceptability of ParentApp with caregivers of children in three age ranges (third trimester of pregnancy-9months; 9months-4years; 4years-9years). This will be conducted using a feasibility randomised controlled trial in each age group.

  4. Determine the preliminary effectiveness of ParentApp in improving responsive caregiving and selected child development outcomes.

Study Setting

Tanzania has a high prevalence of children at risk of poor development, with 70% of children being considered at risk according to population-level estimates. There are high rates of poverty, and the national literacy rate among those aged 15-49 is 77% among women and 83% among men.These are important risks to child development, as they can affect caregiving capacity, and limit opportunities for early stimulation and access to education.

Study Significance and Impact

Evidence from this study will inform the potential for a low-cost scale up of a digital parenting application that has broad and sustained impact.