The role of Communication for Development in UNICEF

Communication for Development
What is Communication for Development

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Communication for Development also referred to as Social and Behaviour Change Communication, is defined in UNICEF as “an evidence-based process that is an integral part of programmes and utilizes a mix of communication tools, channels and approaches to facilitate dialogue, participation and engagement with children, families, communities, networks for positive social and behaviour change in both development and humanitarian contexts.”

Social Ecological Model (SEM) UNICEF’s Communication for Development work continues to be guided by the Socio-Ecological Model (SEM).

The SEM is a theory-based framework for understanding the multifaceted and interactive effects of personal and environmental factors that determine behaviours, and for identifying behavioural and organizational leverage points and intermediaries for social and behavioural change within organizations. There are five nested, hierarchical and complementary levels of the SEM: individual, interpersonal, community, organizational, and policy/enabling environment (Figure 1). The most effective approaches use a combination of activities at all levels of the model.

Communication for Development
What is Communication for Development

UNICEF’s application of the SEM as its analytical framework facilitates the use of social and behavioural data and evidence (such as Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices studies, real-time monitoring, opinion polls and social science research) to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate communication initiatives that help increase knowledge, understand and shift attitudes and norms, and facilitate positive behaviour and social change around issues that affect children’s and women’s overall well-being. C4D uses a combination of complementary and mutually reinforcing approaches including behaviour change communication, social change communication, social mobilization and advocacy.

Behaviour change communication (BCC) is the strategic use of communication to promote positive health, education and other outcomes. BCC is a theory-based, research-based, interactive process to develop tailored messages and approaches, using a variety of population-appropriate communication channels to motivate sustained individual- and community-level changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.

Social change communication is a purposeful, iterative and usually participatory process of public and private dialogue, debate and negotiation that allows groups of individuals or communities to define their needs, identify their rights, and collaborate to transform the way their social system is organized, including the way power is distributed within social and political institutions.

Social mobilization is a continuous process that engages and motivates various inter-sectoral partners at national and local levels to raise awareness of, and demand for, a particular development objective. This approach focuses on people and communities as agents of their change emphasize community empowerment, and creates an enabling environment for change. Engagement is usually through the interpersonal communication (i.e., face-to-face dialogue) among partners and aimed at changing social norms and accountability structures; providing sustainable, multifaceted solutions to broad social problems, and creating demand and utilization of quality services.

Advocacy is an organized effort to inform and motivate leaders to create an enabling environment for achieving programme objectives and development goals. Advocacy promotes the development of new policies or changes to existing laws, helps redefine public perceptions, and influences funding decisions. Community-level advocacy provides a platform for voices of children and women, especially those from marginalized and excluded groups, to be heard.

What is Communication for Development?

In 1996 through General Assembly Resolution 51/172 the UN adopted a formal definition of Communication for Development:

‘Communication for development stresses the need to support two-way communication systems that enable dialogue and that allow communities to speak out, express their aspirations and concerns and participate in the decisions that relate to their development’.

Since other complementary definitions of C4D have been advanced by various development actors reflecting an increased understanding of the role of C4D in development processes.

In 2006 the World Congress on Communication for Development defined C4D as:

‘A social process based on dialogue using a broad range of tools and methods. It is also about seeking change at different levels including listening, building trust, sharing knowledge and skills, building policies, debating and learning for sustained and meaningful change’.

So, Communication for Development (C4D) enables people, particularly the most disadvantaged in society, to participate in shaping decisions that affect their lives. Communication for Development contrasts sharply with how communication is often understood within the broader development arena where it is commonly associated with enhancing the public profile of organisations and advocating on specific programme areas.

About Zulker Naeen

Climate Journalist

Zulker Naeen is a South Asia Fellow at Climate Tracker. With a three years working experience, he has developed courses with the support of other Climate Tracker staff.

As a young climate advocate, his fellowship aims to share knowledge of climate change. Climate Tracker is a global media network closely works on Climate Change.

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The role of Communication for Development in UNICEF


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