Building capacity of Communication for Development partners

In January alone, more than 550,000 people were reached with community engagement activities

Marie Bracquemont
UNICEF Yemen/2019
15 March 2019

Sana’a Yemen, 15 March 2019 – The support of local partners is key when engaging with communities to educate them on vaccination, education or lifesaving hygiene practices.

In Yemen, UNICEF Communication for Development (C4D) section has been working hand in hand with local partners and authorities, including community and religious leaders, teachers and local media, to involve communities in its interventions, to listen to their needs with the aim to change behaviors and household practices that have a negative impact on their lives. In January alone, UNICEF reached more than 550,000 people with community engagement activities, especially on preventing cholera and other diseases, through home visits, group discussions, school-based activities, counselling sessions, drama shows and other community events.

In its efforts to equip local partners with the right set of skills and tools to carry out such activities, UNICEF holds regular workshops and trainings to improve the knowledge and capacity of its partners. This month, UNICEF C4D team trained 37 participants, representing local non-governmental organisations, authorities and other partner organisations from Sa’ada governorate.

UNICEF Yemen/2019
UNICEF C4D team trained 37 partner representatives from Sa’ada this month on social and behavioral change practices, among other C4D skills.

This one-week training held in Sana’a aimed at sharing experience and building the skills of the partners on community engagement, strategic planning for social and behavioral change, core family practices and the Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) framework. “This training satisfied our needs and filled the information gap we had,” said Mr. Yahya Shaym, the head of Sa’ada Governmental Health Authority, who attended the training.

Reinforcing communication activities to reach the most affected populations is a key component of the UNICEF C4D programme. Communities living in high-risk cholera areas, coming from marginalized communities or being forced to flee their homes are particularly vulnerable. With the help of its partners, UNICEF mobilize community networks and promote social behavior change in affected communities, so that families have a supportive environment to improve child care and protection.

Following this training, the participants will pass on their knowledge within their organisations for a long-term capacity building effort. Present at the training, the chief of UNICEF C4D section in Yemen, Ms. Nana Garbrah-Aidoo, acknowledged the importance of such capacity building activities. “We, in UNICEF Yemen, in more than two years have been battling the world’s biggest cholera outbreak. The question we have asked as we worked to motivate individuals, families and communities to adopt positive preventive practices was ‘how we make sure that our implementing partners and their frontline staff engage households and communities through quality evidence-driven and communication approaches and tactics that address the drivers of the outbreak?” I believe that is what we achieved through this training – getting partners to understand that quality engagement which addresses the needs and concerns of people and empowers individuals and communities to make the right choices delivers the desired results and impact.”

UNICEF Yemen/2019
During one week, 37 participants shared their experience and learnt new skills and methodologies to better engage with communities, communicate effectively on key household practices and remain accountable to the communities.

In 2019, UNICEF C4D will continue strengthening the capacity of its key partners - government, non-governmental organizations and civil society structures - in knowledge, skills and expertise to plan, implement, manage and monitor communication interventions for social and behavioral change. A series of workshops will be held throughout the year to train another 150 partners in the five governorates where UNICEF field offices are established in Sana’a, Aden, Al-Hudaydah, Ibb and Sa’ada.

This C4D activity has been implemented with the support of UNICEF donors, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).