Communication for Development

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

training girls on handwashing
UNICEF ROSA/2017/Bronstein

Challenge

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. 

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.

In South Asia, UNICEF has highlighted six headline results: saving newborns, ending polio and ensuring that every child is fully immunised, ending stunting, preventing child marriage, ensuring that every child is educated, and ending open defecation. Behaviour and social changes are essential to the sustainable achievement of these 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 extreme 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 South Asia, UNICEF has a long history of using Communications for Development (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 the headline 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. 

UNICEF has adopted the Socio-Ecological Model (SEM), a theory-based framework for understanding the multifaceted and interactive effects of personal and environmental factors that determine behaviours, and for identifying behavioural and organizational leverage points and intermediaries. 

We apply C4D in a systematic, planned and evidence-based way to promote positive and measurable behavioural and social change. From successful social mobilisation campaigns in Polio to developing the cartoon character, Meena, to promote the girl child, our C4D programmes help increase knowledge and understanding to shift attitudes. 

UNICEF works to strengthen systems and build coalitions around our communication strategies and programmes. Our C4D strategic process engages people at the ground level to allow for local and cultural specificities and perspectives to be a part of our communications. We apply social and behavioural data and evidence to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate our communication strategies. 

Through our C4D work, we are amplifying community voices, connecting them to upstream policy advocacy. We motivate and mobilize civil society, community and faith based organizations, and social networks to help traditionally excluded groups. We empower households and communities by raising awareness and foster positive attitudes and practices for decision-making in the best interest of children.