A unique Social and Behaviour Change Communication Programme launched by UNICEF in Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh, in August 2005 engaged 5,000 village volunteers, 682 women self help groups and 682 adolescent girls groups as frontline communicators in 682 villages to work on four key behaviours.
Under the Government of India’s Integrated District Project implemented in 11 integrated districts across 11 states, including Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh, UNICEF had a convergent programme emanating from a participatory planning process.
The Social and Behaviour Change Communication Programme, a joint initiative of UNICEF and the District Administration, entailed working with as many as 682 villages on four key behaviours that UNICEF had identified as high impact intervention for Behaviour Change Communication using interpersonal communication, community dialogue and social mobilisation.
The four key behaviours were: Early and exclusive breastfeeding; Hand washing with soap after defecation and before handling food; Girls enrolling and completing atleast primary education; and Safe behaviour for prevention of HIV amongst youth.
Every village participated in a five-day village planning process during which the community identified problems and developed a village plan. This was facilitated by a local NGO that had an understanding of the socio-cultural milieu of the place and was sensitised and equipped to build a foundation that rested on faith, trust, commitment and goodwill.
Along with Bal Bandhus, Adolescent Girl (Kishori) Groups and Women Self Help Groups, existing social networks advocated the four behaviours with the objective of creating sustainability for the project. Social mobilisation was used as a dynamic action-oriented process where communities, networks and civil society organisations catalysed behaviour change in the four key behaviours.
New Concept team of three senior documenters and a photo director who camped in Lalitpur for a month attending Bal Bandhu meetings, cluster meetings, training sessions, district meetings of some of the social networks and talking to members of all groups to understand how they had played their part in bringing about change and hope in a parched, dry landscape where health indicators were at a dismal low.
The Advocacy Document, “Hope and Change in Lalitpur’s Villages”, addressing key behaviours through social and behaviour change communication, brings out effectively through evocative pictures and textual information, the strategies adopted by the 37 social networks as also the 5,000 village volunteers, 682 women self help groups and 682 adolescent girls groups in creating awareness and bringing about behaviour change around the four key behavious. It illustrates successes as also challenges and outlines the way forward, in that, how the initiative will sustain itself, once UNICEF brings a closure to this project.
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