A Feeling of Homecoming at the SBCC Summit

Post by Naira Kalra, Doctoral Student, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public

I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to present my work at the Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) summit in Addis Ababa in February 2016. The summit was a gathering of over 700 people from over 52 countries that were excited to share their experiences and celebrate their passion for human behavior, communication and health.

From cramming in as many sessions in a day, to meeting old friends and making some new ones- the three days went by far too quickly. The energy was palpable and it didn’t matter how old or young you were in the field of SBCC, the feeling was one best described by Kumi Naidoo as a “homecoming”.

However, with all the new information also came some questions that have lingered on. The experience definitely left me fascinated by the contradictions – making me realize how nascent and at the same time how developed the field of SBCC is.

Being at a critical stage in my research, where I’m beginning to explore research ideas for my doctoral thesis, the summit exposed me to new ideas, to the challenges of intervention work and to the desperate need for advancement in methods to evaluate complex interventions. In a fascinating Blue Sky session on ‘what counts as evidence in SBCC’, words like randomized control trials (RCT) were only brought up to be followed by complaints about how difficult they were to implement or how expensive and infeasible it was for practice organizations to carry them out. Where I expected us to debate the nuances of evaluation in the field, I found anecdotal evidence of impact and assumptions that if an intervention was shown to be effective using an RCT, it must work, with no regard to the quality of the RCT. The disparity in capacity and knowledge was striking, particularly when terms like propensity score matching or stepped wedge designs were introduced into conversations. Perhaps the struggle is not about methods advancement alone but also about access to the advancement in methods. It made me wonder why as a field of communication, we are not making an effort to simplify and communicate research methods outside the ivory towers of universities.

As a consumer of evidence, limited as it may be, the Summit also raised a few questions in my mind about the tussle between the desire to innovate and the desire to implement best practice. Leaving aside the challenges of transferability of interventions from one setting to another, if successfully adapted, does best practice encroach on the opportunity to creatively solve a public health problem? Is there a need to move from effectiveness to relative effectiveness?

I was also glad to see that theory was not forgotten in the world of SBCC. In a fascinating session on theory from http://internationalsbccsummit2016.sched.org/event/4jvg/provider-connectionaround the world, we discovered the different theoretical lenses with which we can view the challenges that complex human behaviors interacting with a dynamic social context can bring. But along with the simplicity that theory can bring comes the challenge of which theory is better? A question that Wienstein attempted to answer in 1993 still plagues the world of SBCC.

While the summit raised some of the issues that the field faces, many questions remain unanswered. Perhaps in two years when we meet again, there will be some answers and a whole new set of challenges to face.

Suggestions for the Next SBCC Summit from a Researcher’s Perspective

Post by Mohammed Umer Mir MBBS MS, Doctoral Candidate, Global Health Systems & Development, Tulane University School of Public Health

It is not every day that you get to see and hear from some of the most renowned professionals in your field of work. The SBCC Summit 2016 provided just such an opportunity. It was the first event of its kind and I count myself lucky to have been able to attend. The experience was enlightening to say the least. As a relatively new entrant in this field, the ideas I was exposed to really shaped my thoughts and outlook on what SBCC really means and how we can be more effective in what we do and bring meaningful change using the resources that we have. The summit has left me with quite a few things to mull over for the direction my work should take.

The research on habits and the cognitive processes involved which influence them is fascinating. As Dr. Neal explained in his plenary session, intention based interventions do not always work. There are numerous examples of people knowing about healthy behaviors and their benefits, and they still do not adopt them. In my own research on HIV risk behaviors in mobile men in Southern Africa, I have found absolutely no impact of accurate ‘knowledge’ about HIV on sexual behaviors. People develop habits over time, habits which maximize their ‘utility’, and their decisions and actions are not always what you would expect a ‘rational’ mind to make. Innovation in addressing risk behaviors is key in developing the field further. At the risk of oversimplifying, there is need for more emphasis on coaxing people to adopt healthier habits using cues, interventions which utilize their own values to work towards a positive change, efforts targeting the whole cascade of relevant events, with minimal efforts on the beneficiary’s part. This is not just more impactful but also more sustainable.

The researcher in me did feel somewhat of a misfit among all the different exhibits and programs presenting at the summit. I could not help but feel that there was not enough representation of the researchers working on SBCC issues. Maybe this is because of the health focus of the summit and researchers working in communication research are not specifically focused towards health behavior change. However more presentations on state of the art research and methodologies would be a great addition to future events. Which brings me to another issue raised more than a few times in the sessions and discussions. SBCC is complex, it is a slow process, and its effects are hard or even sometimes impossible to measure. All of these may be true but are not reasons to shy away from rigorous evaluations of our programs. These evaluations should be geared to not just show effectiveness but also to elucidate the process of change brought about through the program so that the many theories of behavior change can be validated in different contexts, with different populations. They also need to include economic evaluations like cost effectiveness studies providing guiding evidence for maximizing impact using the limited resources available. It is not that evaluation methods which are adept at accommodating the complexity of SBCC issues do not exist. Maybe this is a place where Dr. Rimal’s suggestion of making SBCC more multidisciplinary would play a role.

Overall, the summit was an experience which I am sure will have a positive impact on the global SBCC domain and I look forward to attending many such future events.

Outcome of the First International SBCC Summit; Highlighting the Many Success of Malaria SBCC

Post by Usman Usman, Behavior Change Communication Advisor, FHI 360 Nigeria

The International SBCC summit has come and gone, as popularized before the commencement of the summit, the summit actually brought together over 700 practitioners from global community of social and behavior change communication (SBCC) organizations, to advance the practice of SBCC in health. The summit was a huge success considering that this is the first time SBCC professionals from more than 50 countries came together to share experience and deliberate on way forward for SBCC. Most of the presenters – especially the keynote speakers – demonstrated their understanding that the impacts of SBCC are real, but are also costly. One of the key outcomes of the summit was presentation of what was termed “Addis Declaration” by Dr. Rajiv N. Rimal Professor & Chair, Department of Prevention and Community Health, George Washington University. He proposed 12 concepts that will address the challenges faced by practitioners and also advance the cause of SBCC globally.

Though the summit was not focused on any specific intervention area, this write up will provide a glimpse of specific presentations on malaria SBCC and highlight some of the achievements in promotion of malaria preventive behaviors in 2 countries. Malaria is one of the major cause of morbidity and mortality all over the world. To prevent and treat malaria these simple behaviors need to be adopted:

  • Sleeping inside bed nets every night and always
  • Taking malaria prevention medicine during pregnancy
  • Testing, treating with appropriate drugs and adherence to treatment regimen


To promote these behaviors USAID supported the Ethiopian Government to implement the JIMMA project. The project adopted the various strategies through the use of community volunteers, school teachers, school students/anti-malaria club members and religious leaders. Findings from the project as presented at summit shows that the JIMMA project was a huge success. The study focused on assessing the importance of community volunteers in promoting positive malaria preventive behaviors. Based on the findings, it was concluded that community volunteers are important resource to promote malaria preventive behaviors, but it is crucial to improve their behavioral experience first before they serve as change agent. Also volunteers need to be role models in other to influence people’s behavior.

Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) created numerous challenges for the continuation of routine health delivery services, this seriously affected the uptake of malaria preventive and treatment services by weakening the linkages between the communities and health facilities. There was a drastic increase in malaria morbidity and mortality. The country developed and implemented a Malaria and Ebola response program through Mass Drug Administration (MDA). SBCC was an integral part of this program. Campaign jingles were created, translated in local dialects and aired on community radio stations. This was also followed by Radio and TV panel discussions and advocacy through newspapers and other text messages. The end line result of the campaign showed that the proportion of malaria outpatient cases (all ages) decreased by 47% in MDA communities and 22% in the non-MDA communities. Similarly malaria inpatient cases also decreased by 29% in the MDA Peripheral Health Units.


The SBCC summit lasted for 3 days, but these 3 days will greatly shape the future of SBCC programs globally. On the last day of the summit, participants unanimously agreed that this type of summit should be organized more frequently, hence the adoption of 2018 for the 2nd SBCC summit. For the future of malaria SBCC, there was a recommendation to create a platform for sharing and learning from other countries’ experience and to provide a more convincing evidence of SBCC’s contribution to the reduction of malaria.

For me the SBCC summit can be best described as “3 days of learning, experience sharing, networking, excitement and fun.”

Thoughts on the SBCC Summit

Post by Adelaida Trujillo, Director, Citurna Producciones/Imaginario

Back in Colombia after the fascinating experience in Ethiopia, I ask myself what was it that brought together 800+ participants from 50+ countries for the SBCC Summit? I think it is the common commitment and passion, from diverse positions and perspectives, to explore the best way forward for improving the media and communication for social and behavioural change strategies to guarantee evidence based, long term , sustainable platforms with deep impact on the complex development issues that we face. I found many of the ideas bold and challenging, specially those of the keynote presenters and closing session speakers, reflecting from the various perspectives of this field. And most important : they all managed to raise questions about the way we are doing our work in our countries and organizations.

Kumi Naido’s keynote speech on the central role of civil society in development and change processes, on social movements, as well as the responsibility we all have in ensuring a diverse and free media environment and balancing power relations, key for healthy democracies,  struck me as the most inspiring and challenging. It may have resonated because we are trying to implement communication and edutainment work for social change from a local , “organically grown “ CSO in Colombia, and conceive communication processes as platforms for shifting forward public policies and dialogue and debate, from a rights based approach and placing the people at the center. Kumi offered a historical and an essentially political perspective on development issues that demand complex solutions, such as civil rights, anti-racism, gay rights, representative democracy, gender equity, land reform, economic equity, peace process negotiations, etc.

A strategic follow up to Kumi’s challenge was posed by my admired edutainment colleague Lebo Ramafoko from Soul City, who provided an analysis from a leading southern organization, working at scale in a very complex environment like South Africa. Lebo’s bold questions on social change evidence, the role of international foundations , donors and the cooperation sector, its partnerships with local governments and CSOs as well as the (un)balance of north-south power relations , move our daily social change practice in Latinamerica.

Other presentations , ranging from how the brain works relative to behavioural “choices”to the state of the art in advertising or positioning branding also raised challenging questions in the way we should (or not?) incorporate these elements in our local work.

“The state of this field?” was the question posed throughout the Summit and some of the perspectives that resonate (and which coincide in part with my COMM TALK on our platform Revela2); include: 1. an increasing growth in the number of organizations focused on social and behavioural change/communication and media for development , specially local and national responding to our own contexts; 2. the growth in civil society organisations in many countries considering communication at the heart of change and rooted in a “local” analysis of the issues – not external perceptions or requirements; 3.the still prevalent division between those organizations which emphasize people as the subjects/objects of change; and those who focus on supporting the social, policy and cultural changes needed ; 4. the need to support and facilitate local and national dialogue, debate and conversation to amplify the voices of those most affected. 5 the digital world question was present throughout: the “channel” o “vehicle”, how to bridge the digital gap, and the essential qualities of digital: network building, peer-to-peer dialogue, social organisations, knowledge sharing, etc .

Finally, the CSO growth has created more spaces for supporting and facilitating networks, which can provide a firmer ground for development work , influenced by local analysis and voice , but a key tension kept floating to the surface: who sets the priorities and the agendas? major foundations, bilaterals , UN agencies , or locally grown organizations, local governments and /or CSO’s? What is possible – strategically – when there are no international development funding constraints, not a predetermined set of “deliverables”, not the oversight from an external agency?

The tension was evident between vertical programming with short term targets versus processes resulting from negotiation and partnerships with countries and local organisations. And a key question was raised: how to guarantee funds flow in equitable terms to local and national organisations like ours?

All these questions should be the heart of what we do…and I commit to sharing them with our region thru The Communication Initiative Latinamerica : http://www.comminit.com/global/content/social-media-social-and-behavioural-change-communication-summit-addis-ababa-feb-8-10-201

Big Ideas from the SBCC Summit 2016

Post by Adnan R Amin, Managing Director & CEO, Unisocial Limited, Bangladesh t: @unisocialbd

So the first and much-awaited International SBCC Summit is now over. Its latent demand was evident in its urgency, enthusiasm, attendance and critical conversations. The three-day event stood out because it brought together professionals who not only had similar skills and interests, but also spoke the same language. The need for cultural understanding and cross-boundary knowledge sharing has been piqued, if not entirely fulfilled, by the exchange. These are important developments for the future of SBCC.

I was invited to speak about Unisocial’s experience with behavior change as it pertains to ‘citizen involvement in governance’ in Bangladesh. But as it turned out, the experience for me was not as much about ‘knowledge-sharing’ as it was about ‘learning’. In this post, I will recount or summarize themes and ideas that have – in my opinion – the potential to transform SBCC as we know it.

Taking SBCC Beyond Health

The summit featured a number of case-studies and talks that envisaged a robust role for SBCC beyond ‘health’. In its earliest days, SBCC was most successfully and famously applied to health-related challenges. Therefore, ‘Behavior Change’ often automatically evokes notions of ‘health behavior’. Yet there are an infinite number of behaviors that can be, and is being, promoted through SBCC. Some examples (of negative behaviors) mentioned during the summit includes unsafe migration, resistance to organizational / policy reform, social-compliance failure in factories, citizen apathy towards governance, child marriage etc. What these instances indicate is that SBCC has extensive applications beyond health and our SBCC learnings and experiences can be applied to practically any social reform agenda. The journey of SBCC has therefore just begun.

Laying Multidisciplinary Foundations

The SBCC Summit featured talks and discussions that touched upon Neuroscience, Behavioral Science, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Project Management, Marketing, Advertising / Communications, Media Ethnography and Digital Media Sciences. This may be considered a shift away from the traditional IEC and/or awareness-raising models. BCC in 2016 must be conceived as a multidisciplinary function that draws upon physical, social and creative sciences to facilitate the achievement of project goals. This conceptualization also frees SBCC from the grips of obsolete theories and static models – allowing people from a number of academic backgrounds and disciplines to contribute to efforts to positively affect behavior.

Revisiting Roots of Behavior

Naturally, behavioral motivation varies by geography, history, culture, beliefs and a host of other factors. However, in agreeing upon a general theory of behavior, it is vital to recognize that human behavior is not rational. Yet, for decades, SBCC practitioners have appealed to audiences’ rationality – imagining, for example, that cancer statistics would deter smokers. The session titled ‘From the Pulpit to the People’ was an eye-opener in terms of understanding and acknowledging how human behavior is shaped. Darriel Harris (JHBSPH) spoke about how his project was using passages from the Bible to convey messages about Malaria and mosquito nets.

Marianna Muzzi (UNICEF, Ethiopia) talked about how deacons were helping discourage child marriage. Harnessing the power of Faith for behavior change is potent, new direction that has infinite applications, especially in countries with organized, institutionalized and ritualized Religion. Religion is just one example of powerful cultural forces that can be used to shape behavior.

Communicating Across the Board

In some discussions, it was pointed out that project managers and/or implementers sometimes treat SBCC as yet another activity to be implemented; i.e. the emphasis is on completing a list of materials, broadcasts and activities. In short, SBCC thus becomes a chore. Sometimes it is compartmentalized into boxes like ‘sensitization’, ‘awareness raising’ or ‘demand generation’. Yet, the very nature of SBCC dictates that it be planned simultaneously with an intervention and used strategically to achieve project goals. An imperfect marriage between ‘program’ and ‘SBCC’ essentially forfeits the scope for synergy. There are important implications in this about the disadvantage of using implementing NGOs / agencies to carry out SBCC interventions.

Shaping the Future of SBCC

Lastly, a much talked about theme – as surmised from water-cooler conversations – concerned the very structures of power surrounding development work and SBCC. Triggered partly by an impassioned talk by Kumi Naidoo (African Civil Society Center), the need is growing for a critical review of power structures across geographic boundaries, nationalities and donor-recipient relationships. In the future, SBCC will do well to remain outside the influence from dominant knowledge, interests or ideas, unless they contribute to positive behavior. It must be the mission of every serious SBCC practitioner to rid the field of SBCC of extraneous considerations that compromise its effectiveness. And in that sense, the first International SBCC Summit 2016 was an impressive first step towards ensuring balanced representation and equitable exchanges among all stakeholders.

Learn, Re-Learn, and Keep Learning…

by Rajendran Jeevanandham, Nalamdana, India

My three-day experience at the International Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Summit gave a strong boost to my learning and re-learning from various specialists who work in the field of behavior change communication. The summit was indeed very well organized and served as a great platform for knowledge exchange.

What I took away from the sessions I attended:

The preliminary session by David T. Neal about creating disruption and sticky behaviour change made me think about how I can take back the learning from the sessions and creatively implement the same back home.

Tanya Liberhan’s presentation on the Entertainment Education for Increased Uptake of Family Planning Services and Improved Health Seeking Behaviors in Rural India, had very similar pattern of work as what we do at Nalamdana. This session emphasized on the pre SBCC-intervention arrangements and it’s overall impact on the post-intervention screening, to measure the areas of improvement.

The activity-based session on How to Leverage Community Video Approach for Health, Nutrition, and Agriculture gave me a different perspective on using the most cost effective set-up to shoot a film and maximizing available resources.

The session on Entertainment-Education Showcase, and the presentation of Sean Southey on Communicating Ebola Survivor stories to Inform, Protect and Inspire Change in a Public Health Emergency threw light on the level of commitment SBCC workers have towards creating a better society.

The Tuning Into Change: Interactive Radio Drama in Malawi,gave me practical insight on how to take up a case study from the community and create a radio drama, incorporating the awareness message for the public. Since my organization,Nalamdana, runs a community-based radio station, Thendral Community Radio 91.2 MHz, this interactive session by Ryan Borcherding was very valuable.

The Session on Social Media in Social Change by Andy Bhanot, spoke on the mobile Kunji, and it’s impact on behavior change. It was very interesting on how technology can be put to best use. However it made me wonder on the health hazards on using mobile phones, as in most of the rural areas, in India the people tend you buy the low-cost-high end phones, which tend to have a higher radiation and risk of bursting (As there were a few incidents that were reported in the local newspapers). Apart from that concern, the session was very interesting.

A brief on the Poster Presentation:

There were very detailed posters from different organizations and countries that depicted their work. However, as this was done during the tea break, I didn’t have enough time to actually read all the posters and network with the field practitioners. I also had my own poster to present. There were also various booths set-up by the organizations, which had very informative material that I could bring back to India. The session on Developing Materials and Products for effective Social and Behaviors Change Communication by Phinah Kodisang, was very useful and practical for my work.ethiopian_dancers

The cultural event (dance) was really well organized. It gave us the overall view on the rich culture and tradition of the Ethiopia.

Last but not the least the concluding Town Hall.  Ben Lozare’s talk during the closing ceremony was outstandingly brilliant. At every stage of his presentation, was self-reflective, thought provoking and inspiring.

My oral presentation, Reducing Stigma and Improving Knowledge about HIV/AIDS Adherence through Cable Radio and Role Plays at the Tambaram, GHTM, Chennai was very well received by those who came to see the panel. This opportunity also helped us to meet possible funding partners interested in our project. They were impressed at the size of audience we reach and by how long the project had been operational for (9 years).

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity you provided to share our organization’s work to a wider SBCC audience. On the whole, the SBCC Summit has not only improved and refreshed my learning but also widened my exposure to other areas within SBCC. It was an incredible experience at the conference to connect with and learn from SBCC practitioners around the world, under one roof.

Looking forward to the next summit already!


An Afterthought: Looking into the Potentials

by Yasmin Khan, Program Director, Bangladesh Center for Communication Programs (BCCP)

There have been numerous occasions when I attended meetings to talk about Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) and found that the topic was put at the end of the schedule.

While other sectors got priority, SBCC got the least significance. Along with many other communication professionals my frustration got into a vicious cycle with an apparently never ending question – is SBCC less important than other components of any development program? The answer that I longed for was revealed in every session and event at the International SBCC Summit 2016.

The first International SBCC Summit was held in Addis Ababa from February 8 to 10, 2016 with the title “Elevating the Science and Art of Social and Behavior Change Communication”. Approximately 750 academics, practitioners and students, directly or indirectly involved in SBCC, attended the Summit representing 55 countries. For the first time, the Summit brought together hundreds of people who spoke in one voice about the importance of SBCC as well as shared their ideas and thoughts revolving around it. A combination of varieties of approaches including Auxiliary Events, Blue Sky sessions, Comm Talks, Plenary, Skills-Building Workshops, Exhibitions and many more made the Summit an engaging, empowering and exciting event for experienced practitioners, and young energetic learners as well. In different sessions, the lessons learned and best practices of SBCC were showcased depicting how theory and evidence-based design could bring a big difference in the lives of people. In spite of its many successes, SBCC as a component needs to go further to become an integral part of the development sector. I actively participated and keenly observed various sessions of the Summit to understand how to establish SBCC as an essential component.

Here is what I feel:

SBCC does not have a consistent positioning which could draw attention of other sectors. As a result, in many cases, other sectors do not put due weight to SBCC knowingly or unknowingly. To overcome the situation, we need to ensure a consistent positioning of SBCC. SBCC is a combination of science and art – this simple positioning might heighten the image and at the same time would help other sectors to appreciate the importance of SBCC. Focusing the science and art of SBCC in the Summit, I found a good start in this regard.

Quite often responsibility of SBCC is given to a person as an additional work who doesn’t have required knowledge, expertise and skills. The person neither puts priority in SBCC nor can deliver quality outputs. The positioning of SBCC might also compel the stakeholders to involve the right person having relevant theoretical and practical knowledge to carry out the responsibilities.  Besides, strengthening SBCC capacity by providing tools and techniques are also imperative in achieving the quality outputs. In various sessions of the Summit, experiences of SBCC capacity strengthening interventions were shared which could be used in wider scales in future.

There is a lack of promotion about the variety of approaches and technologies that SBCC uses.  Still in many cases, SBCC is associated with a poster, a brochure or a television spot.  Other sectors need to know that SBCC doesn’t only use traditional means but also utilizes cutting-edge technologies. In the Summit, I observed a good number of interventions that used various types of ICT as tools and techniques of SBCC. These information needs to be disseminated appropriately with other sectors to change the mindset.

Other sectors need to appreciate that SBCC is not an extra burden but it complements and supplements the development goals. The diverse and flexible nature of SBCC ensures that it can be adapted for addressing any social and development issues, including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In different events of the Summit it was observed how SBCC approaches addressed issues like family planning, child health, maternal health, nutrition, malaria, HIV/AIDS as well as emerging needs/issues including Ebola.

The Summit left enormous potentials for clear future direction of SBCC. It provided a platform for networking with people from same school of thought. The SBCC practitioners and learners should make use of the network to learn from each other and this opportunity should be utilized to the fullest. I believe together we can establish SBCC as a steering wheel, rather than a spare wheel.

Rwenzori Center for Research and Advocacy Executive Director Reflects on SBCC Summit

by Jostas Mwebembezi, Executive Director, Rwenzori Center for Research and Advocacy (RCRA)

I’ve participated in several years of strategic work in social behavioral change communication (SBCC). The first international SBCC Summit converged the global community of SBCC organizations, professionals and researchers to advance the practice of behavior change communication at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia on February 8-10, 2016.

jostas1The Summit attracted over 700 people of common language including the behavior change communication practitioners representing 50 countries from all continents. The event was organized by Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and others.

Day One plenary with keynotes was moderated by Kojo Lokko, Deputy Project Director of the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3). He said that the SBCC is key in achieving the 17 Sustainable development goals with 169 targets. Among the keynote speakers, Kumi Naido, Executive Director of the African Civil Society Center, presented the role of communication in a world in crisis, he highlighted three tier for civil society activity focus for interventions namely; Governance Change, Policy Change, and Delivery of projects and programs which he categorized into the level of intervention, period to success, and level of current civil society percentage investment.

Level of Intervention Period to success (years) Level of current civil society investment (%)
Macro 5 to 20 5
Meso 2 to 10 15
Micro 1 to 3 80

Below is one of the many breakout session in the United Nations Conference Centre Caucus,Banquet, and Conference Rooms:

jostas4 jostas3

In the afternoon of day one, Eliana Monteforte and Judith Beth Seltzer, the Senior Technical Advisor and Principal Senior Advisor Institutional Development respectively at Management Sciences for Health, conducted the first workshop in a three-part series on improving the sustainability of SBCC organizations. Oriented the SBCC Summit attendees on how to use the Program for Organizational Growth, Resilience and Sustainability (PROGRES). This largely strengthened the attendees competence to assess their organisation, an analysis drawn from the attendees interactions in the caucus room after the workshop.

Dr. Hilmi Quraishi the Founder of ZMQ Development and Ashoka Fellow explains the role of MIRA Channel in health education through games and storytelling, Mira Channel was implemented in India and is now being scaled in Uganda and Afghanistan.
Dr. Hilmi Quraishi the Founder of ZMQ Development and Ashoka Fellow explains the role of MIRA Channel in health education through games and storytelling, Mira Channel was implemented in India and is now being scaled in Uganda and Afghanistan.

The SBCC Summit was officially opened in the evening of day one prior to cocktail and traditional Ethiopian entertainment mainstreamed in networking, sharing knowledge in health communications, opening grounds for partnerships and collaboration.

Day two was largely exciting with day opening keynote sessions and very exciting moderated panels and presentations. The Market Fair Exhibition Hall accommodated sparse interactions during busy sessions and dense interactions during tea and lunch break. On the same day I made a poster presentation of integrating information communication technologies in ending preventable maternal deaths. Poster presentations were made in the interval of 30 minutes during tea break. The market fair exhibit hall participating organisation included; ZMQ Development, HC3, Ministry of Health Ethiopia, Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Program, Save the Children Ethiopia, PSI, JSI, fhi360, Concern Worldwide U.S, The MANOFF GROUP, The Donkey Sanctuary, Institute for Reproductive Health, Pulse, Jhpiego and among others.

ZMQ Development was one of the participating organizations with information hosted in the Market Fair Exhibition Hall.
ZMQ Development was one of the participating organizations with information hosted in the Market Fair Exhibition Hall.

In the evening of day two, HC3 introduced the new Springboard for Health Communications Professionals Android and iOS app. Out of the members who signed up at the HC3 booth, attended the launch event and made a post in Springboard prior to the event., Three randomly drawn lucky Springboard members won a Samsung Galaxy tablet.

On the 3rd and last day the town hall and closing was moderated by Kojo Lokko, Dr. Ben Lozare in his largely exciting presentation told the attendees that ‘’to grow up one needs to grow down as well.’’ The SBCC Summit closed in the evening of the 3rd day however in the morning of the 4th day about 20 SBCC Practitioners visited the Wegen AIDS Talkline through a trip hosted by the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health.

Mind Blowing Experience at the SBCC International Conference

by Chancy Mauluka, SBCC Advisor, SSDI-Communication, CCP-Malawi

I have been to a number of international conferences since 2008. The International SBCC Conference is one conference every SBCC practitioner needs. Every session was very relevant to my job and I wish I could be at many places at the same time to attend all breakout sessions. It was so inspiring to see many SBCC practitioners under one roof; everyone I talked to had a thing to offer to make my practice get one more inch or more further. The conference offered me numerous networks; and most importantly networks that will enable me elevate use of new media in behavior change. This was so relevant in the present world where we do not have to be overtaken by technology in our media mix.

The sessions were well-organized in a way that conceptually similar presentations were effectively bundled together; and that permitted rich discussions. As if to provide a recap for the day, the Keynote speeches were equally related to the topics of the day. For instance, after I presented on integration of culture, religion and health, and shared with other countries on similar interventions, the day dramatically closed with an inspiring experience from South Sudan where Darriel Harris utilized church sermons for health promotion. Darriel narrated how he used the story of baby Jesus, among others, to mobilize communities towards small step actions to ensure newborn care. Thanks to the organizers for organizing motivating speeches full of take home words of wisdom. Kumi Naidoo elevated the role of communication in conservation of the environment. “We cannot save the planet. We can only save ourselves. The planet will continue.” Naidoo. And then there was Ben Lozare who closed the conference in a grand style: “To grow up one needs to grow down.” Indeed we need to grow down through utilization of best practices and evidence in SBCC interventions. This reminded me of the call other participants made for not reinventing the wheel, a lesson that’s well recommended than practiced. If all of us go beyond projectized/institutionalized stories of success and leverage on one another, we will register quick wins and save more lives.

Unlike many international conferences I have attended, this conference opened up to participants in many ways. One unique way was allowing for a Question-and-Answer session after keynote speeches. This, like we always recommend, avoided a one-way-communication (ecumenical) approach, and was quite fitting for communication practitioners. Do as I Do!

As a way forward I will be recommending new ways of utilizing new media in our project as well as those implemented by the Ministry of Health; being an active member of various Communication Technical Working Groups at ministerial level. I will be recommending a more organic approach to integrating religion and health communication i.e. using real biblical events to identify and contextualize relevant health messages. This is something that will require design workshops while learning from best practices of other partners e.g. the South Sudan intervention. Use of games in communicating to illiterate communities is another lesson I have taken home. In future projects I will be exploring on how best to utilize indigenous games for health promotion. More importantly, I will be inviting partners to the springboard for health Communication and will actively work towards establishing a country page and making the Malawi practitioners active not only virtually through the page but also physically through in-country meetings.

The SBCC International Conference is one conference that has to stay as long as there is need for a concerted communication effort to improve health. I would not hesitate to recommend this to any communication practitioner. It is a place to be!

From Coast to Coast: Tried and Tested SBCC Principles

by Sylvia Mariettah Katende

Compared to a well laid banquet table with an assortment of meals, the first ever Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Summit provided a varied menu of knowledge and practices from around the globe.

The program areas ranged from to health, agriculture to climate change. Participants could often be seen debating between attending pre-formed or technical panels. Irrespective of field of specialization, there was definitely (and still is) something that would catch your eye. I know many of us would prefer to hear more about the highlights on the innovations or future of SBCC. However, I have chosen to reiterate three of SBCC’s guiding principles and proven approaches that dominated various notable speakers’ discussions.

User- centred Design Approaches: It’s By Them Not For Them

In her keynote presentation dubbed “The Good, The bad and The Ugly”, the Executive Director of Soul City Institute, Lebo Ramafoko reflected on 20 years of proving what we do works. Citing from the 1999 CSC position paper by Denise Grey Felder and James Deane, Lebo reminded us about moving away from people as objects of change onto people as agents of their own change. She passionately remarked that SBCC should be about supporting dialogue and debate on the key issues of concern, moving away from persuading people to do something and onto negotiating the best way forward in a partnership process. We saw this practically applied in the presentations on human centred design principles to change behaviour and social norms for better maternal, newborn and child health. Ashley Ambrose, one of the presenters on this panel, shared how Concern Worldwide used the rapid prototyping approach to involve Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and community members in the design of their Essential Newborn Care Corps project model. Using scenario testing and role play, the TBAs participated in the design of the project logo, preferred uniforms and accessories like baskets to carry health products. The end users determined which products would be included in the product basket and the ways of selling that they considered “respectful” in the socio-cultural context. This approach resulted in nearly 100% participation and retention of TBAs as Maternal Newborn Health Promoters in Sierra Leone

With the media landscape evolving, we can now reach audiences on different platforms but also reach them differently leveraging on the interactive nature of new media to get audiences involved in their health outcomes. A sneak peek into the trending channels observed from the Summit indicates over 15 presentations featured the use Edutainment mainly through radio dramas, games, storytelling and theatre. Use of mobile phone messaging and social media were also popular.

Evidence is Required

katende2It is known that SBCC is a research–based consultative process. The research presented showed that evidence based communication programs can increase knowledge, shift attitudes and cultural norms and produce changes in a wide variety of behaviours. Judging from the high numbers of attendees in the evidence related sessions, the role of research, monitoring and evaluation of communication strategies, channels and interventions cannot be more emphasized. Those who attended the day one plenary will most probably remember this catchy quote from Kumi Naidoo’s keynote speech; “Not everything that counts can be measured and not everything that is measured counts.” The summit’s maiden Blue Sky session moderated by Douglas Storey also constituted research “gurus” and SBCC experts, to discuss what counts as evidence. My takeaway from this session was, it’s not just about the numbers: qualitative results should be given equal prominence. The process of disseminating findings needn’t be studious and boring. Haydee Lemus shared the Guatemalan experience of using theatre to present quantitative research on communication for Family Planning to stakeholders and communities alike. It is no secret that some health practitioners do not take the role of SBCC seriously. In her opening remarks, Susan Krenn, Executive Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, emphasized the need to illustrate the strong linkage between well-designed health communication and positive health outcomes. This will elevate SBCC’s contribution to the development agenda.

Context Matters

People make meaning of information in their own context. With reference to the panel on Mainstreaming Global Theories of Health Communication, the speakers shared perspectives from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the West. Regardless of shared languages, religions, cultures and practices, it was clearly illustrated that countries within each continent still had different beliefs, social norms, and interpretation of seemingly simple things like colours. As a practitioner, one ought to look for the SBCC theories that are most applicable to one’s country or project when planning their strategies. The principle applies across all other levels of implementation. Any knowledge is as powerful as its application. Resources shared from other sessions on the different forms “context” is applied can be found at elong@ideas42.org, www.youtube.com/aliveandthrive and sbccimplementationkits.org.

Want to learn more? Download the entire abstract booklet at sbccsummit.org/abstracts/.