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Communication for Development (C4D)

Social mobilization

© UNICEF/UNI177034/Palasi
The Creating Connections workshop in the Phillipnes helps bridge cultural and religious differences by bringing together youth from diverse backgrounds

Social mobilization in UNICEF is a process that engages and motivates a wide range of partners and allies at national and local levels to raise awareness of and demand for a particular development objective through dialogue. Members of institutions, community networks, civic and religious groups and others work in a coordinated way to reach specific groups of people for dialogue with planned messages. In other words, social mobilization seeks to facilitate change through a range of players engaged in interrelated and complementary efforts.

Reaching out to root out Ebola in Guinea
A dozen people sit in the shade of a jackfruit tree, commenting on an illustration that shows a Muslim cleric and a few mourners watch men in protective suits conducting a burial. “While there is Ebola, we cannot have burials the way we are used to. We cannot touch the body,” one of the villagers says, drawing nods and mm-hmms of approval from the rest of the audience.

Young people play a leading role in peacebuilding efforts
Developing the leadership and peacebuilding skills of adolescents is a pillar of UNICEF’s strategy to confront long-standing social divisions. Working with Centre Ubuntu in Burundi, youth are trained on peaceful resolution of conflicts, leadership, development and empowerment.

Social mobilizers empower ‘hotspot’ communities to fight Ebola
There are 788 ‘hotspot busters’ in Sierra Leone that deploy rapidly to communities that are considered hotspots of the epidemic, as part of an immediate response to an outbreak. Members of the community themselves, hotspot busters are trained to intensify social mobilization activities and increase engagement of communities to stop the spread of Ebola. They conduct one-on-one sensitization sessions, house-to-house visits and public awareness-raising. To ensure that the hotspot is covered, the social mobilizers activate youth, women and volunteer networks in each community and reach approximately 9,000 households every week. They are involved in active community surveillance and are approached by community members to call the 117 Ebola hotline to refer sick loved ones to hospital.

Paz a la Joven mobilizes youth to promote non-violence - YouTube
The joint UNICEF and Colombian Presidential Youth Council's programme is a youth for peace project that mobilized youth to create 25 areas of peace across the country. The goal was to generate a network young people who want to build and contribute to peace in their territories. Some of the topics that young people share were their experiences of exclusive socialization, reconciliation, historical memory and the social construction of peace.

©UNICEF Colombia/video

Community support system brings better healthcare to villagers
The Community Support System (ComSS) in Bangladesh is one of the clinical interventions to generate demand for quality healthcare services from public health facilities. Interpersonal communication on key behaviours and harmful social norms for children has helped reduced infant mortality by more than 70% over the past two decades. 

Community health workers received training in interpersonal communication
With on-going socio-economic crises impacting the available health services, the community health workers provide crucial coverage in Madagascar. The health workers conduct essential outreach to families on issues such as proper hand washing, not defecating in the open and vaccinating children. Many of the health workers are also parents from the local community, lending additional legitimacy to their message. 

Social mobilization campaigns help reduce child mortality in Madagascar
Eliane is one of 164 social community workers who conduct essential and effective outreach to families, largely because nobody knows better how to talk to parents in a community than people from the community itself. The community health worker programme is an essential pillar of a wider social mobilization programme that UNICEF and partners are running in Madagascar. Carnivals, discussions on local radio stations and concerts are other pillars of this programme.

Adolescents use kites and GPS cameras, mapped their favelas
The youth focus socio-environmental risks and develop methods to use the data in order to improve the lives of children and families in their communities by mapping risks and resources. The resulting information has been used the Morro dos Prazeres in Brazil to mobilize the community to clean accumulated garbage and help prevent landslides and a variety of health hazards.

Youth map a city's risks and learn about health and technology
As part of a holistic approach to treating HIV/AIDS, adolescents from the low-income communities of Cité Plus and Village de Dieu in Haiti engaged in a mapping initiative in two Port-au-Prince communities that is intended to reveal the obstacles that keep vulnerable adolescents – particularly girls – from gaining access to HIV prevention services. The adolescents learned about HIV risks, modes of transmission and prevention methods, and received instruction in digital mapping.

Community Information Boards (CIB) help communities track the health of their children
The Community Information Boards, in Nigeria, are an innovative mechanism that helps communities track the health and well-being of their children and women and empowers them to participate in making decisions that affect their lives. A simple board is used to display basic social and development data that communities use to track the health and well-being of their children and to drive community dialogues.



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