Analysing Processes of Change: TACRO and BEC-CO organise C4D Learning Workshop in the Caribbean Sub-region
Panama, November 9, 2009 - Building on UNICEF’s efforts to strengthen and energise Communication for Development (C4D) capacity within the organisation, the Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean (TACRO) and UNICEF Barbados and Eastern Caribbean (BEC) organised a 5 day learning workshop on C4D for country offices in the Caribbean sub-region. The workshop was held from 26 – 31 October 2009 in Barbados. A culmination of 4 months of planning, it was graciously hosted by UNICEF BEC and was facilitated by Cynthia de Windt, an external consultant, in collaboration with UNICEF NYHQ.
Centred around the theme ‘What is the change you want to see?”, the workshop aimed to provide participants with a common language, (human rights) value-base and orientation to behaviour and social change processes that underpin UNICEF programming, policy advocacy and humanitarian work. It focussed on demystifying key concepts, principles and approaches to the use of C4D methods and tools in strengthening programme results in the Caribbean. The workshop sought to establish the role and relevance of evidence-based C4D as an essential organisational practice and discipline that cuts across programme sectors, and emphasised the strategic, planned and systematic nature of this area of UNICEF’s work.
Programme, M&E, information and programme communication officers/ specialists from 9 UNICEF country offices participated in the workshop. They included: Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago. In a first of its kind, all staff members from the Barbados Country office participated in the first two days of the workshop, greatly adding to the richness of discussions. In addition, Deputy Representatives from 3 offices – Barbados, Colombia and Belize, as well Representatives from Barbados and Surinam actively contributed towards ideas and discussions on mainstreaming C4D within country offices.
The workshop agenda was developed on the basis of a Learning Needs Assessment carried out in August 2009. Participants identified three thematic areas of importance in the region that required attention – Child protection with a focus on violence against children; Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health with focus on teenage pregnancies and HIV/AIDS prevention; and Emergency preparedness. The workshop content and methodology was consequently designed to bring out key challenges and opportunities in the behavioural and social change dimension of these issues that C4D could address.
The meeting was opened by the UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, who said “Communication for Development lies at the heart of the challenge to actively involve poor people, and other vulnerable and excluded groups in decision making procedures that affect their lives and to enable them to manage communication processes and media." She also added "When successful, Communication for Development is a powerful tool to mitigate poverty and hunger and to promote democratic processes and social change in many countries.”
To provide examples of good practice and enhance learning, the agenda included presentations from guest speakers both within and outside of UNICEF. These included presentations on: C4D interventions to address HIV/AIDS in Jamaica and Timor Leste; C4D to address school based violence against children in Barbados; C4D Approaches to addressing Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Egypt and Violence Against Children in the Middle East; role and relevance of community participation including challenges of scaling up; and youth and social media. Discussions during sessions especially those related to mainstreaming C4D and communication monitoring and evaluation yielded a rich range of recommendations and next steps for UNICEF offices across the Caribbean countries as well as for the regional and headquarters offices.
An initial assessment of the workshop evaluation forms has indicated that 90% of the participants who were present for all five days, have rated the workshop between ‘good’ and ‘very good’. Most participants found the workshop to be interactive, well designed and relevant to their jobs. Sessions around causality analysis, group work and guest presentations were found to be especially useful. Several recommendations have been made to strengthen content and methodology for future workshops given that a diverse and wide range of UNICEF staff is increasingly engaging with this cross-cutting area of organizational practice.