Global annual results report 2019: Communication for Development
Progress, results achieved and lessons in effecting positive social and behavioural change in 2019
Communication for Development (C4D) is one of the core change strategies that contribute directly to the achievement of results within each of the goal areas of the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2018–2021. By identifying and addressing social norms, behaviours and practices, C4D strengthens programming and improves outcomes for children and adolescents.
C4D approaches are essential to foundational cross-cutting change strategies for the achievement of programme results. With people and child-centered development at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals, C4D programming remains a unique asset amongst UNICEF’s comparative advantages and potential for further accelerating progress towards the fulfilment of the rights of children, families and communities.
This report summarizes how UNICEF and its partners contributed to C4D in 2019, illustrates how C4D strategies contribute to positive social and behavioural change and reviews the impact of these accomplishments on children and the communities where they live.
Advancing positive social and behavioural change
Communication for Development (C4D) is an evidence-based and participatory process that facilitates the engagement of children, families, communities, the public and decision makers in both development and humanitarian contexts through a mix of available communication platforms and tools.
UNICEF promotes and applies C4D to drive positive behavioural and social change for children and their families. Employing a range of multimodal means based in services, communities and the media, C4D strategies aim to influence individuals, families, communities, institutions and systems. Three flagship areas of UNICEF’s C4D work are community engagement, social norms and social accountability.
By enabling community engagement, C4D strategies also support local governance, active participation in sectors such as health and education, system strengthening and improvement of social accountability, all of which contribute to improved outcomes for children and adolescents.
The most typical and also the most powerful way to work towards fulfilling children’s rights is in partnership – with governments, other United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), communities and families. Just as UNICEF does not stand alone, neither does Communication for Development.
Results stem from the collaboration of many actors and teams and thus cannot be attributed solely to C4D, but they are unquestionably strengthened by the integrated platforms and partnerships of C4D and the behavioural science that informs the approaches taken.
C4D strategies contribute to four behavioural outcomes that underpin results in all Goal Areas
Generating demand for services
Adoption of key family practices
Abandonment of harmful social norms
Engaging and empowering communities
Two of the many important tools in the C4D toolbox
U-Report is a platform accessible by phone and computer which engages users via alerts, surveys and one-on-one chats. It is designed to address multiple issues affecting children, young people and communities by directly providing life-saving or changing information to them in a timely way, including the most vulnerable. U-Report connects young people all over the world to information with the power to change their lives and influence decisions.
Internet of Good Things
The Internet of Good Things (IoGT) is a mobile-ready website that enables free access to content without data charges in 63 countries and 13 languages. More than 32 million users have accessed IoGT since its launch in 2015. IoGT is an important tool to support increased access to information for three user groups: parents/caregivers, adolescents/youth and service providers/front line workers.
Generating demand for, and use of, services
Demand generation is the process of creating a need, or belief in the need, for a product or service among a particular target audience. C4D strategies stimulate or accelerate demand for services in a number of ways, including reducing stigma, developing gender-sensitive communication, and mass mobilization.
Using C4D strategies to generate demand
In the Syrian Arab Republic, after seven years of crisis, an estimated 2 million children are out of school. C4D supported the Back to Learning campaign, which included analysis of education-seeking behaviours in terms of drivers and barriers for out-of-school children and their caregivers; outreach and community mobilization activities through door-to-door visits and group awareness sessions; and messages disseminated through TV, radio, billboards and social media.
Increasing uptake of birth registration by integrating it into the national immunization service
At just 24 per cent, Guinea-Bissau has one of the lowest birth registration rates in the world. To address this situation, UNICEF established six social mobilization committees, with particular focus on the most vulnerable nomadic communities in remote and marginalized areas. The committees were mobilized to promote two key family practices – immunization and birth registration – through a single contact with families.
Adoption of key parenting and family practices
While children and their caregivers must demand, have access to and use services for their well-being, essential healthy and protective caregiving and family practices are equally important. These practices are not dependent on services, but have an almost exclusive behavioural component. Evidence has shown that these are critical to child survival and optimal health, growth and development, and they are UNICEF priorities for support to children and families.
Promoting positive parenting
Fostering fathers’ participation, particularly from the antenatal phase through early childhood, is an important area of work for UNICEF. More than half of children aged between 3 and 4 years old in 74 countries have fathers who do not play or engage in early learning activities with them (55 per cent, approximately 40 million). Social norms, which place the responsibility for child-raising on women, are often a barrier. Many fathers have been deprived of the opportunity to learn parenting skills, including key practices for child development.
A father from the start
In Cuba, UNICEF played a leading role in advocating for and providing technical assistance to the first comprehensive knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) study on men’s involvement in parenting and domestic care.
The C4D strategy ‘Father from the beginning’ was launched, aimed at increasing fathers’ active participation in their children’s early years in key health and education spaces. The campaign was highlighted in mass media, including public presentations, television programmes, mobile applications, publications and photo exhibitions.
Abandonment of harmful social norms or adoption of positive ones
By reinforcing positive norms that protect children, or encouraging the abandonment of social norms that condone or facilitate negative behaviours, C4D activities encourage parents, families and societies to change both behaviours and perceptions of what is socially acceptable, as well as encouraging agency in identifying and demanding related services.
Promoting Positive Gender Socialization
In Egypt, girls face gender disparities and a high prevalence of harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In 2019, UNICEF supported the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood to design and implement the first national girls’ empowerment initiative, “Dawwie” (meaning “loud voice with an impact”).
Dawwie amplifies the voices of girls and boys to facilitate a change in social expectations through interactive community theatre, intergenerational dialogues, digital platforms, edutainment, campaigning, Goodwill Ambassadors, and more. Recognizing that individual behaviours have complex and interconnected determinants, the programme aims to create a conducive ecosystem to tackle harmful social norms by catalysing a growing community of institutions and people in support of girls. Dawwie tackles gender ineqjuality as the root cause of harmful practices like FGM, in order to establish the foundations of a long-term transformation of gender norms.
Engaging and empowering communities, adolescents and children
C4D strategies seek to engage and empower communities and young people, particularly the most marginalized, to enable them as agents of change in both development and humanitarian contexts. This includes efforts to systematize mechanisms for engagement to improve their health and well-being, to hold service providers and policymakers to account for access to quality services and provisions, and to foster inclusion and gender equity.
Strategic partnerships with faith leaders to facilitate community engagement
UNICEF has led a scaling up of the Faith and Positive Change for Children (FPCC) Global Initiative on Social and Behaviour Change. In the Niger, one of the five early adopters of FPCC, the commitment of communities, religious and traditional leaders have been essential to reducing and eliminating traditional practices that constitute violence against women and girls, including child marriage.
In 2019, UNICEF combined several C4D approaches: continued community mobilization supported by faith leaders; a child protection community-based approach; and media mobilization including radio programming. The year closed with a national forum which brought together traditional and religious leaders from across the country, who committed themselves to promoting the rights of children to education, health and protection.
System strengthening and regional efforts to effect change at scale
Under the guidance of regional offices, initiatives are carried out to generate multi-country behavioural evidence and to provide technical support for the development of conceptual frameworks, strategies and guidance. The following provide examples of results from three regions; examples from the other regions and at the global level can be found within the full report.
West and Central Africa
The continuously increasing occurrence of disease outbreaks highlighted the fragility of health systems across the region. C4D strategies strengthened the generation of demand for immunization and uptake of services, as well as promoted positive parenting behaviours such as acceptance of breastfeeding and the practice of birth registration during immunization. The UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office provided C4D technical assistance to immunization and disease outbreak response plans in 10 countries in the region.
Eastern and Southern Africa
Evidence-based C4D strategies, frameworks and plans were developed and reinforced for health; early childhood development (ECD) and parenting; birth registration; promotion of demand for immunization and strengthening of crisis communication; social accountability; violence against children; adolescent development and participation, with a focus on adolescent engagement in U-Report; and harmful practices and social norms. The Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office supported 17 countries in preparing the Joint Appraisal for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and 9 countries in preparing annual workplans related to the Harmful Practices Global Programmes (Child Marriage, FGM and the Spotlight Initiative on violence against women and girls).
Latin America and the Caribbean
By the end of 2019, countries in the region were hosting 3.9 million of the 4.8 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees worldwide, and C4D capacity has been increased significantly. A regional study was conducted to identify common challenges and opportunities. In particular, the survey found that half of refugees and migrants from Venezuela feel that they do not have enough information on their rights and where to obtain assistance. It also found that 30 per cent did not have access to a mobile phone and, therefore, relied on front-line workers, radio and other platforms for information. This has resulted in regional- and country-level C4D strategies to support the behavioural and social norms bottlenecks related to the Venezuela migration flow, ECD, violence against children, and accountability to affected populations.
The outbreak of COVID-19 was first reported at the end of 2019, and had become a pandemic by early March 2020. At the time of writing, it has become clear that the global crisis will have a significant and severe impact on children. Basic services from health to education have been disrupted, and the wider socioeconomic impacts are yet to be measured. The lessons learned from the effective implementation of C4D strategies in health crises – Ebola in particular – are proving invaluable to the organization’s COVID-19 response.
Examples of C4D application at the country and regional levels illustrate that social and behaviour change, both in development and in settings where there is a humanitarian crisis, contribute to the fulfilment of children’s rights across all goal areas.
To strengthen results, C4D identified the following high level priorities:
People-centered community empowerment
Using social science to inform communication and community engagement
Support for lifecycle parenting
Strengthening social norms and gender-responsive parenting
Scaling the use of digital engagement
Support for partner coordination
Communication for Development achievements of 2019 have been key to delivering social and behaviour change at scale and demonstrate the multiple ways in which the cross-cutting change strategies of C4D support the achievement of programme results. C4D programming remains a unique asset of UNICEF to help deliver on the vision for people and child-centered development which are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.