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Looking forward from Marrakech

These are reflections from Wanjiru Mathenge, who attended the Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) Summit 2022 in Marrakech City, Morocco in December 2022.

By Wanjiru Mathenge, SBCC Advisor, WISH2ACTION

The Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) Summit 2022 was held in Marrakech City, Morocco from 4th December – 9th 2022. The conference attracted nearly 1,800 practitioners: donors, researchers, high-level policymakers, and advocates from around the world.

The schedule packed an interesting buffet (food too!!), including presentations from the WISH2ACTION programme, showcasing innovative and integrated mass media and community engagement activities to reach people living in poverty, youth, and people with disabilities. Our oral presentations zoomed in on Sudan and Malawi; how male involvement has and can address social and cultural norms to promote the uptake of SRH / FP services and how digital health interventions can support reaching young people in Malawi.

As I look ahead to a year of programming, here are my three takeaways from the summit (albeit late!).

Multiple approaches for the win!

The benefits of having a multi-channel campaign are well documented, maximizing interactions, enhancing better targeting of the intended group, and geared to creating awareness. The conference showcased various approaches, including audio-visual, radio spots, drama, community engagement tools, community games, use of champions, word-of-mouth testimonials, and storytelling emerging as a strong approach to motivate behaviour change.

Behaviour change communications have greatly evolved to evidence-based, user-centric, innovative campaigns whose aspirational content amplifies the voice of the target audience. Nothing for us, without us!

Wanjiru Mathenge, SBCC Advisor, WISH2ACTION speaking at the Summit.

With the growing mobile and internet penetration across the world; there is a pull to reach young people through digital platforms, however, it is crucial to protect individual and community privacy and counter misinformation.WISH2ACTION has successfully used a multi-channel approach of integrated mass media and community engagement strategies to deliver 27M CYPs against a target of 20M, serving an average of 16.26% of youth[1] with SRH services and anecdotally, addressing negative attitudes and beliefs held in the communities that we serve.

We need more evidence!

Not just evidence of outputs, but evidence of the effectiveness of these approaches and how programmes can effectively integrate measurement and evaluation approaches on a routine basis. WISH2ACTION mirrors best practices on implementing an evidence-based programme; aside from routine output-based monitoring, formative research has been conducted to identify barriers, and motivators to behaviour uptake, that we have worked to address. In addition, the WISH2ACTION, has conducted several studies and developed multiple evidence briefs: including, rapid methods for measurement of social norm change. Annual thematic learning events are hosted to share achievements, challenges, and opportunities for adaptation.

The S in SBCC. Social change for all.

Behaviour change communication is crucial aspect in achieving global social change as defined by the Sustainable Development Goals. Programmes should be designed to address various barriers including health systems, infrastructure, and consumer-facing obstacles. Governments across the world have integrated health promotion into their health departments, but they are over-reliant on donor funding.

The WISH2ACTION programme has worked with governments to promote national ownership of health programmes, promoting the need to develop national SBCC strategies, fund annual plans, and have trained staff on interpersonal communication facilitation techniques that promote community engagement.

Lastly, 3 Family planning High Impact Practices on SBC were launched. They demonstrate how different social behaviour change High Impact Practices work in tandem to strengthen the delivery of (but not limited to!) family planning programmes.

Now what?

Focus on the beneficiaries - women and girls, keep them at the center of the social change that the world so desires. As we do this, let us amplify their and other community members voices into programme design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. The sector needs to support integration of SBC tools and approaches into governments as a sustainable measure across sectors to achieve the SDGs. Lastly, let's generate more evidence and make our learnings known. Let’s get to work!

For more information on WISH2ACTION, visit our webpage: About WISH | IPPF

For more on WISH2ACTION resources, visit our resource portal: Wish Portal (ippf.org)

[1] WISH2ACTION Service statistics, cumulative until Q4 2022