Communication for Development (C4D)

Behaviour and social change

Behaviour and social change have often been seen as distinct approaches, requiring different strategies and unique skill sets. UNICEF C4D sees them as complementary techniques used to define and address individual and social influences. We support behavior and social change strategies that produce positive change within a social system.

UNICEF C4D employs the Social Ecological Model (SEM) framework for understanding the multifaceted and interactive effects of personal and environmental factors that determine behaviors, and for identifying behavioral and organizational leverage points.

Behaviour change is a research-based consultative process for addressing knowledge, attitudes and practices. Behaviour change enables groups of individuals to engage in participatory processes to define their needs and demand their rights. The collaborative, transformative actions emphasize public and private dialogue to change behavior on a large scale, including norms and structural inequalities.

Addressing individual behaviours, which are shaped by social, cultural, economic and political contexts, requires interactive approaches and a mix communication channels in order to encourage and sustain positive and appropriate behaviours. With well-defined strategies and participatory practices, behavior change communication can provide individuals with relevant information and motivation.

Social change is a deliberate and iterative process of public and private dialogue, debate, and negotiation that focuses on the community as the unit of change. It aims to change behaviors on a large scale, eliminate harmful social and cultural practices, and change social norms and structural inequalities.

The participatory process allows communities to define their needs, identify their rights, and collaboratively transform the way their social system is organized, including distribution of power within social and political institutions. Collective community action, based on negotiating and partnership, creates joint ownership of the change process. Community members control the tools of communication, which fosters empowerment and helps them shift social norms, policies, and culture.

Going door to door to fight cholera in Central African Republic
UNICEF Connect on social mobilization efforts increase hand washing to reduce the spread of choler. “We tell the people that they should wash their hands with soap frequently, treat the water (with bleach or boil it) before using it for drinking or cooking, avoid using water from the river”, says Samuel Zouma, the local Red Cross committee coordinator. 

Exclusive breastfeeding protects the lives of infants and mothers In Guinea-Bissau
In the remote village of Bianga, mothers gather once a month in community bungalows to learn about breastfeeding and optimal nutrition for their children. Naniza Mantega Mendas is already seeing the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding in her three young sons, who are all healthy and thriving.

Mothers take on malnutrition in Burundi
With admissions to hospital for malnutrition on the rise in this vulnerable part of Burundi, something had to be done. So the community turned to a cadre of ‘light mothers’.

WASHComs’ drive change in northern Nigeria
A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Committee in the remote northern village of Gidan Darge is inspiring behavior change. WASH officers from the local government visited the village and worked with community volunteers to give a set of simple yet powerful demonstrations. The Nigerian Government then installed a new handpump for the community, which now provides safe drinking water for everyone. It also ensures households can practice handwashing and keep their toilets clean.

Young reporters connect with their community in Côte d’Ivoire
Ange Aye-Ake, Communications Specialist with UNICEF, Côte d’Ivoire, “We want to help develop a generation of young people who are not afraid to ask questions, think critically and participate in the debates and conversations that are happening around them that concern them and their rights as children.”

Reaching rural communities with good health practices to increase knowledge, raise awareness and shift attitudes
Armed with newfound knowledge and the passion to make a difference, Health Extension Workers, such as Abner Shivute, visit at least four households a day to give support to pregnant mothers, mothers with newborn babies, and people with minor ailments, as well as to give guidance on how people can access social support services such as welfare grants.

Sierra Leone: Ebola survivors begin to find acceptance
Yeabu Kalokoh, 18, is beaming with smiles as she holds her baby girl, Grace, and gently caresses her. The young mother and her nearly 2-year-old daughter share the terrible ordeal and the good fortune of escaping the deadly grip of the Ebola virus. They are two of more than 400 Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone’s Bombali District who met to share their experiences and to discuss issues of stigma and discrimination. 

Mine risk education targets children displaced by conflict
The dangers of mines are recent and unfamiliar to most Malians. Awareness is crucial in the effort to save lives. UNICEF conducted risk education workshops to train partner organizations in how to conduct awareness sessions for children. 

A community takes measures to protect girls from harmful practices including child marriage
In Ethiopia, community-wide discussions on harmful traditional practices were conducted with the Bureau of Education, students, teachers, religious leaders and other community members. After the discussions, the community prepared its own set of laws in order to control the situation, including such penalties as imprisonment and forfeit.

Using theatre to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among youth in Botswana
The Wise Up programme amplifys the message of its multimedia campaigns -- using theatre to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS among youth.

Applying C4D to curb maternal mortality in Cambodia
Families in The Kingdom of Cambodia adopted health seeking behaviours to curtail the nations’ high maternal mortality. The campaign ran on television and radio and was supported by the trained interpersonal communicators. Potentially pregnant women were encouraged by colourful, innovative and captivating radio and TV spots, mobile phone ring tones, posters, banners and leaflets, to come in for their first ANC visit within a month of missing their period. This core message was communicated massively and intensively in the media several times a day, and reinforced at community level. Everybody talked about it – some even whistled the catchy campaign tune.

Eradicating child marriage in Niger 
Child marriages remains the norm in many communities for reasons related to poverty, culture and lack of access to education. A government programme raises awareness those in positions of influence, parents and young girls, attitudes towards early child marriage have started to change. The programme currently covers 100 villages in four regions nationwide and involves selecting and training animators to engage their communities in a dialogue to bring about behavioural and social change.

Meena Communication Initiative
The school-based children's programme centers on a spirited, nine-year-old girl who braves the world – whether in her efforts to go to school or in fighting the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in her village. The initiative uses a combination of mass media and interpersonal communication to enhance children's self-esteem and self-worth and allow them to familiarise themselves with life skills essential for their empowerment.

Radio 'Meena Ki Duniya' or Meena Radio is an entertainment-education radio series in South Asia designed to communicate with children, especially adolescent girls in rural schools, their educators, parents and community leaders. Launched in 2010 by UNICEF and the Department of Education, the programme reaches 5000 schools in 9 districts of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Thinkwise - Don't Stigmatise 
Bangladesh is a partnership between the government, NGOs and the professional cricket league to raise HIV awareness in adolescents. Spectators of the girl's cricket tournament hear information on the nature of HIV and how to prevent infection as part of the match commentary. Pink t-shirts adorned with the slogan “Be aware, save yourself” have been distributed to cricket fans throughout the competition. Cricket activities across India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have joined the campaign and hope that the informed youth will continue to reverse the global spread of HIV.

Nun, Chini, Pani ("Salt, Sugar, Water")
The Nepal oral rehydration communication campaign helped reduce the number of annual diarrhoeal deaths from 45,000 children in the mid-1980s to 30,000 a decade later.

For over twenty years, UNICEF and its partners have supported Tostan, an NGO in Senegal that works on health, education and gender-based issues using a community-led development approach. Tostan has been recognized globally for its contribution towards abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) using social empowerment and community outreach through public declarations in about 3,000 of the 5,000 communities across Senegal.




C4D Good Practice

New enhanced search