Communication for Development

UNICEF applies Communication for Development (C4D) to bring about positive behavioural and social changes for the well-being of children in Bhutan.

Two young mothers taking their babies to the village health worker for growth monitoring
UNICEF Bhutan

Challenge

UNICEF applies Communication for Development (C4D) to bring about positive behavioural and social changes for the well-being of children in Bhutan.

The well-being of children can best be affected and sustained by positive behavioural and social changes within families and communities. While cost-effective, affordable and high-impact interventions such as vaccines save lives, such interventions alone are not enough for long-term, sustained impact. Even with access to such services and commodities, children will continue to suffer from preventable diseases, become malnourished, and live compromised lives, if their families and communities do not care, protect and nurture them effectively.

UNICEF Bhutan’s focus is on providing strategic technical support for improved results through behavior change, and addressing social norms and root causes to accelerate programme results.

Sustained behaviour and social change is effective only when combined with changes in the broader socio-economic environment within which families and communities live. To effect such change, we have to address underlying factors such as government policies, gender inequalities and systems of representation. Contextual issues related to poverty, discrimination and sustainable livelihoods must also be considered. Such changes often take time, are challenging to measure, and require sustained application of resources and effort. The need for them is often underestimated by governments, development agencies and donors.

Solution

In Bhutan, UNICEF has used C4D strategies and programmes to promote lasting changes in values and practices to enhance the quality of life for children. We have applied C4D to achieve exclusive breast-feeding results, and bring about positive changes in traditional, cultural and religious beliefs; in attitudes and perception; in gender relationships; and in the power dynamics within and among communities. We have also enhanced advocacy with high level decision makers, community leaders and influential organizations and individuals

C4D has also helped improve quality of services through system strengthening and community engagement platforms. For example, 300 Village Health Workers (HW) and 200 HW based in Basic Health Units (BHU) are trained on Interpersonal Communication skills and health promotion messages; 300 local leaders are oriented on child well-being.

UNICEF also works with partners to develop comprehensive interactive C4D materials with maternal & child health, WASH and ECCD key messages, which are then distributed to all BHUs, schools and ECCD centers in the country.

We must continue to enhance community awareness and capacity to utilize and demand for social services through community mobilization & behavioral change communication initiatives, including social and mainstream media.