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“All development requires some kind of behavior change on the part of stakeholders...” World Bank
Development communication aims to inform, persuade, empower, challenge attitudes, and mobilize commitments from decision-makers that will enable achievement of programme goals and fulfilment of human rights - whether these relate to health, nutrition, education, protection or other field of social development. The term “decision-maker” is used in the broadest sense to refer to individuals at any level in society who have capacity to influence others to adopt new approaches, attitudes and practices. Decision-makers may include:
A communication strategy identifies the factors that will advance or may hinder social change, outlines the building blocks of change, and takes account of potential allies, the relevant policies and legislation, and/or the cultural factors that may impede or advance change. By building on the evidence and current social realities, communication strategies aim to generate an enabling environment in which social change in support of development goals becomes a priority promoted by and wholly owned by the most influential leaders.
[Download the presentation: Strategic Advocacy and Communication Workshop]
Capacity development The greatest success is achieved when communication strategies are developed in conjunction with programme initiatives in the relevant sector. Involving government and civil society partners in the development of communication strategies helps to strengthen alliances in support of shared goals and build capacity in the use of evidence and participation as the basis for determining effective communication approaches.
Evidence All strategies, whether focused on advocacy, mobilization or behaviour change, require an evidence-based approach – involving research into current conditions to understand the opportunities and challenges for change and to determine the indicators of progress.
Language and channels for communication need to be appropriate and relevant to the focus groups - whether these are politicians, journalists or household heads. Clear messaging, creative and engaging presentation that is acceptable and recognizable to key audiences is important. So is a high level of trust in the promoters of change, and a focus on solutions that are realistic, affordable and accessible.
Participation The most effective communication approaches are participatory - whether engaging parliamentarians, the mass media, private sector, the poorest urban or most remote rural communities. Participation means that responsible representatives from key audiences are involved in developing and testing the efficacy of the strategy, methodology, channels and materials used to promote change, and feel self-invested and accountable for the success of the initiative.
Planning Communication planning begins with answering key questions: What is the issue? Why is it important? Who are the important decision-makers or influencers? What are the current policies/beliefs that guide decision making (whether in parliament or at household level)? What is the key to unlocking commitment to change? What are the most effective channels for engaging target groups? Who are the allies and champions for change? How can they be effectively mobilized? What are the obstacles and how can these be overcome?
As the strategy evolves from these responses it helps to articulate a theory of change. Articulation of how and why social change should emerge from a specific set of actions helps clarify objectives and plans with partners and serves as a reality check.
This segment outlines some of the work with UNICEF in Kenya and Tanzania, in which some of the most pressing concerns involved political commitment to investing in child rights (in laws, policies and budgets to enable achievement of government commitments to children), in stopping violence against children and promoting child survival.
This work was originally produced for UNICEF
Tanzania’s stop violence programme is mobilizing the police, health services, schools, social welfare, the justice system and civil society to prevent and respond to violations of children. The public awareness campaign aims to inform and challenge deep-seated fears in children and adults that prevents reporting and increases vulnerability. The logo says “Stop violence against children! Protect them” More
In Tanzania, the Children’s Agenda engaged government, and dozens of civil society organizations who adopted a common advocacy platform for child rights. They work together to increase investment in the Top Ten priorities for children at national and district level. More
Child Alive engaged Kenya’s most revered religious leaders in a communication and fund raising campaign for child survival involving a five week radiothon and 90 minute telethon. More
The Look Out for Leaders campaign obtained signed commitments for children from half the elected members of parliament as well as the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister to increase investment in child survival, education and protection.
The Malezi Bora (Good Nurturing) initiative was developed with the Government of Kenya. It aimed to mobilize the health system and the public around more effective delivery and utilization of routine health services.
Malezi Bora Radio Spots
An introduction to the core elements involved in the development of a communication strategy
Common Communication Planning Mistakes..
1. Assuming you know the situation without solid evidence
2. Assuming you know what people/stakeholders think without asking them
3. Thinking that it is not worth the money to gather evidence or ensure participation
4. Testing communication products by showing them around the office - not to the actual audience
5. Cluttering up materials with multiple messages without thinking if the audience will understand or find the material appealing
6. Giving the job of designing materials to an amateur instead of investing in a professional designer who can deliver a high quality memorable product.
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