Communication for Development (C4D)

The big picture

UNICEF Image:  Rushali Gajabhaye, of the Red Ribbon Club (RRCÕs), speaks to village elder Asha Rohane and her daughters.
© UNICEF/Nigeria/Ric
Nigeria: Volunteer social mobilizers in Kano State hold educational materials that help them teach communities about the importance of vaccinating children against polio.

Communication for Development (C4D) is one of the most empowering ways of improving health, nutrition and other key social outcomes for children and their families.

In UNICEF, C4D is defined as a systematic, planned and evidence-based strategic process to promote positive and measurable individual behaviour and social change that is an integral part of development programmes, policy advocacy and humanitarian work.

C4D ensures dialogue and consultation with, and participation of children, their families and communities. In other words, C4D privileges local contexts and relies on a mix of communication tools, channels and approaches.


UNICEF C4D envisions a world in which people come together as equals and dialogue so that all children, families and communities have access to the information, skills, technologies and processes they need to generate solutions; are empowered to make informed choices, reach their full potential; and participate meaningfully in decisions affecting their lives and realize their rights. C4D practice is consistent with UNICEF’s mission and the human rights approach to development.


C4D in UNICEF collaborates with partners to harness the power of communication and social networks to make a positive difference in the lives of children, their families and communities. C4D promotes the use of a judicious mix of participatory communication strategies and approaches in order to increase the impact of development programmes, accelerate achievement of global and development goals and enhance the ability of families and communities to achieve results for children and realize their rights.

UNICEF C4D Principles

These core principles guide how C4D practitioners in the organization work with communities, development partners and programme staff. These principles are based on the human rights based approach to programming, particularly on the rights to information, communication and participation as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Articles  12, 13 and 17).

They include:

  • Facilitating enabling environments that create spaces for plurality of voices, promote narratives of communities, encourage listening, dialogue and debate and the active and meaningful participation of children and women;
  • Reflecting the principles of inclusion, self-determination, participation and respect by ensuring that marginalized and vulnerable groups (including indigenous populations and people with disabilities) are prioritized and given visibility and voice;
  • Linking community perspectives and voices with sub-national and national policy dialogue;
  • Starting early and addressing the whole child — including the cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual aspects in addition to survival and physical development;
  • Ensuring that children are considered as agents of change and as a primary audience, starting from the early childhood years; 
  • Building the self-esteem and confidence of care providers and children.



Inter-Agency C4D

    C4D in the UN website

         Interagency C4D 

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