29 September 2023

Resilient Communities, Stronger Future

UNICEF India and USAID successfully partnered to support the Government of India in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and continued with support till March 2021.  The interventions implemented under the partnership covering Delhi, Maharashtra,  Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh aimed to appropriately respond and mitigate the risks of extensive Stigma and Discrimination caused by COVID-19 through a comprehensive Risk Communications and Community Engagement (RCCE) Strategy supporting and supplementing the efforts made by the government at the national and state level. USAID was amongst the first donors for UNICEF’s RCCE response to COVID-19 and with the generous support to the tune of $3.5 million, UNICEF India has managed to achieve some commendable results. The partnership led to the development of over 100  communication materials in 11 different languages focusing on the themes of COVID-19  Appropriate Behaviors (CAB) and ‘stigma and discrimination’. In addition, under the  partnership, the campaigns against stigma and discrimination had a reach of more than  150 million through messaging on social media platforms. The partnership also led to direct engagement with the most vulnerable communities and networks living in urban slums,  and hard to reach rural areas. Under the partnership, the RCCE efforts played a crucial role in effectively delivering COVID-19 and vaccine-related information to more than a 100 million people. This compendium of stories brings together a collection of successful case studies from different states of India. These stories are selected from both rural and urban settings, and  they represent the work done at the grassroots level by the collaborative efforts of UNICEF and USAID under different subject areas. 
04 May 2023

Environmental impact of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural)

UNICEF in India accords high priority to the provision of safe sanitation and water services to people in rural areas and has over the past many years aided through catalytic technical support to the Government of India and 15 state governments in the implementation of the various sanitation programmes and since 2014, specifically to the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). With the progress of the SBM-Rural, and declaration of open defecation free (ODF) communities, there is an emerging question on whether the campaign to eliminate open defecation and create ODF communities is resulting in the decrease in faecal contamination in the environment. This is also an area of interest to UNICEF as it may reveal the impact of the sanitation campaign on environmental faecal contamination, which directly affects children with role in preventing diarrhoea, enteric enteropathy, malnutrition, and stunting.   The purpose of this scientific study is to ascertain contamination levels, related to human and animal fecal contamination in Environmental Medium viz. Water, Soil and Food in 4 numbers of villages each in one ODF and one non-ODF district in each of the three states viz. Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal. The overarching aim of study is to assess the effectiveness of sanitation interventions implemented in these villages through various programmes, and to see the effect it has had on the extent of Fecal Contamination in the environment of these villages.  The study provided holistic recommendations covering key areas of effectiveness of the sanitation intervention in study states. It was found that for most of the sampling categories, the risk ratios indicated that residing in an ODF community had a protective effective on the environment. In other words, ODF villages were less likely to witness contamination in their soil, water, and food as compared to non-ODF villages. In particular, groundwater was 12.7 times less likely to be contaminated with human faecal matter, and piped water 2.4 times less. The assessment currently is purely indicative, but it points to positive correlations between sanitation programming and its potential impact on health. It is important that the results are probed further and that the assessment is replicated in other districts and states, as well. 
04 May 2023

The role of trendsetters in the popularization and adoption of the Swachh Bharat Mission (2020)

The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), launched in 2014, spread across the country at an unprecedented rate.  The programme focuses on both toilet ownership through subsidies, and community-based behavioural change interventions to encourage toilet use and maintenance. The Government of India’s Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti reports that over 110 million toilets have been constructed since the programme’s inception. In addition to meeting infrastructural goals, the programme aims to move millions of Indians to use the toilets once  they  were  constructed,  making  it  possibly  the  world’s  largest  behaviour change campaign in history.    What accounts for the impressive growth of SBM?  This study suggests that the influence of key individuals was a major contributor to its success, with a cascade of influence flowing down from the prime minister to other parties, from government  officers down to village leaders.      For the study, interview data from thirty-two participants to understand their characteristics and role in the Swachh Bharat Movement was analysed. Participants were chosen according to specific selection criteria to represent a wide range of decision-making power, methods of influence, networks, and roles in the Swachh Bharat Mission. The respondents had diverse backgrounds, ranging from high-ranking government officials and influential Bollywood celebrities to grassroots leaders and NGO workers. Each interview examined the nature of the respondent’s role in the movement, the broader structure in which they were embedded, and whether they exhibit the characteristics of an effective trendsetter. 
16 August 2021

Risk Communication and Community Engagement for COVID-19 Response

Forging innovative partnerships with private hospitals in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to reinforce COVID Appropriate Behaviour: UNICEF and SAATHII NGO’s partnership with private hospitals helped in reaching over 370 hospitals sensitizing their staff of 4,750 with CAB messages. More than 6,600 mothers, spouses and caregivers were sensitized on CaOVID-19 appropriate behaviours (CAB). Over 600 pharmacies were reached sensitising 1,350 pharmacists. Youth volunteers respond to COVID-19 in tribal areas of Bastar, Chhattisgarh: The Yuvodaya programme which began in Bastar in October 2020 has about 6,000 volunteers engaged in raising awareness for COVID-appropriate behaviours. Other than COVID-19 response, volunteers are also engaged in addressing malnutrition, one of the most crucial challenges for the district. Frontline Workers, NGOs and volunteers engaged to promote COVID Appropriate Behaviour in Jharkhand:  The campaign to promote COVID-appropriate behaviour in urban Ranchi engaged 50 community volunteers from 7 NGOs. Volunteers were oriented to promote CAB among families, as well as health workers, sanitation workers and shopkeepers. Partnership with youth organization strengthens community mobilization in Madhya Pradesh: Over 700 volunteers from Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), one of the key partners, were recruited for all the blocks. UNICEF, along with State Health Department, conducted an orientation for the volunteers and youth officers. ‘Mai Corona Volunteer – I am a Corona Volunteer’: 100,000 people in Madhya Pradesh respond to clarion call by Chief Minister:  Support was given in terms of training of volunteers. Social and behaviour change messages were developed and disseminated. These were on issues such as home isolation, quarantine, stigma and discrimination, promotion of CAB, and vaccine safety.