Communication for Development (C4D)


© UNICEF/Madagascar
This hygiene video, staring pop star Tsiliva Mpanakanto, played across Madagascar and is part of an integrated campaign to address open defecation.


At UNICEF, advocacy is defined as the continuous and adaptive process of gathering, organizing and formulating information and data into argument, which is then communicated to policy-makers through various interpersonal and mass media communication channels. Through advocacy, UNICEF seeks to influence policy-makers, political and social leaders, to create an enabling policy and legislative environment and allocate resources equitably in order to create and sustain social transformation.

C4D works to link the perspectives, concerns, and voices of children, women and men from marginalized groups to upstream policy dialogue. The audiences for advocacy are many and varied: the president or head of state, prime minister, cabinet, parliamentarians, key public servants; religious and traditional community leaders; social and business leaders, women leaders, NGO leaders, media executives and producers; celebrities who may have a positive effect on public opinion; and donors.

Advocacy efforts occur at global, national and sub-national levels.  When polio re-emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010, awareness of the disease and how to prevent it were both very low. Some influential traditional leaders, such as Marco Kiabuta from the Mukwaka village in Katanage, believed that polio vaccine was unnecessary. “We have our faith as a protection... We are not refusing the vaccination because we think it's a poison but we don’t need it because we have only one doctor within us and it’s God,” he said.

After a series of debates with community mobilizers and community leaders, Mr. Kiabuta came to understand the need for the vaccine. The inclusion of Mr. Kiabuta and other religious leaders in awareness and immunization campaigns has increased awareness of the disease and acceptance of the vaccine in previously resistant communities.

In South Africa, adolescents question their country's response to climate change.  In Zambia, media workshops are empowering adolescents to report on and call attention to climate change. Indigenous adolescents in Mexico advocate for increased participation in society.

A joint programme between UNICEF and the United Nations Development Fund for Women, in Egypt, has been training journalists to monitor how women and children are portrayed in the Egyptian media. The journalists not only become more aware of inequities in reporting, they become advocates for improved quality and coverage of women in print and broadcast media. 

In Cambodia, a high-level consultation on Child Survival was conducted between the Government and health development partners to promote and support breastfeeding. As a result breastfeeding was the highest priority among the 12 key interventions stipulated in the Cambodia Child Survival Score Card Interventions. Subsequent countrywide exclusive breastfeeding campaigns often included sub-national advocacy to improve communication and coordination among the health care professionals, local government, employers and community members (e.g., workplace policies about maternity leave and breastfeeding facilities).

Successful advocacy depends on following a few core principles: 

  • Clearly define the issue  
  • Determine specific goals and objectives
  • Understand which kinds of evidence are available (quantitative/qualitative/mixed methods)
  • Develop clear evidence-based messages
  • Establish a multi-sector advocacy team
  • Evaluate messaging through participatory approaches



Working with Religious Leaders

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What religious communities can do to eliminate violence

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