By Sid Shrestha
Speaking on strategies for SBCC programme implementation, Shri. Balakrishnan, Development Commissioner of Odisha State, said, “You need to understand the local context and gather evidence. Only then should you plan your implementation. It requires a bottom-up approach.”
Sid Shrestha, Chief of Communication for Development at UNICEF India, echoed that these campaigns are much more than simply printing communication materials, but also involve a systematic approach to long-term sustainability.
Since February 2017, the Dhaara seminar series has brought together stakeholders from government, academia, research, media, and civil society to engage in dialogue and transform discourse around SBCC. The five seminars, including the last seminar on 19 December in Odisha, were comprised of a variety of themes, including empowerment of adolescents, inclusive communication for SBCC, measuring social norms, and training methodologies in SBCC.
The fifth and final seminar, “Social & Behaviour Change Communication Lessons and Experiences: State Communication Policy”, used a unique approach. It was the first event held outside New Delhi, and inputs and consultations from the seminar are being used to formulate a State Communication Policy – a first by any state in India.
The discourse included informing state policy development through national level experiences on systems strengthening for SBCC, transmedia media initiative, health facility branding for client satisfaction to SBCC social capital investment.
The Odisha team also shared best practices on how to reach communities in “media-dark” areas. Other state-based interventions were also presented, including institutionalization of cultural troupes for folk media and community mobilisation for shifting norms on child marriage.
All discussions and presentations at the seminar highlighted that communication and initiating behaviour change is a scientific process that requires systematic planning and is based on solid evidence.
“Convergence between programmes and social and behaviour change communication is crucial at all stages of planning, implementation and monitoring,” stressed Sourav Bhattacharjee, Nutrition Specialist from UNICEF Odisha as a lesson learnt from his experience of working with C4D on “Swabhiman” and “Jeevan Sampark” nutrition communication programs.
The new State Communication Policy will incorporate all of the experiences and inputs from the seminar series, serving as a tangible translation of inputs into results.
The UNICEF Dhaara series demonstrated the need to not only disseminate experiences in Communication for Development, but also to contribute to capacity development at all levels.
The knowledge management journey on Communication for Development has begun and will continue to grow in 2018 and beyond.