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!