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Behaviour Change Communication

Communication involves the implementation of a decision or policy, the process and means by which objectives are achieved. The goals of the communication process are to inform, persuade, motivate, or achieve mutual understanding. To be an effective communicator, a person must have basic knowledge of what constitutes communication and how people receive messages, but communication is only effective when it is applied to behaviours that can change.
The more changeable the behaviour, the more effective communication interventions are likely to be. Another factor to consider is the importance of the behaviour in solving the key problem. For this paper, communication should not only focus on knowledge or attitudes but behaviour as well. Changes in knowledge and attitudes are only intermediate aims in communication especially for development. Properly planned, behaviour-driven communication should automatically address concerns about knowledge and attitudes as part of the communication package.
Communication activities can serve several functions; they can simply inform people and or make them aware of something but they also can inform and motivate specific audiences to carry out specific actions and behaviour. When planned and executed strategically, communication can play an integral role in encouraging and supporting improved practices. Approaches to complex behaviour change focuses primarily on the five main influences on behaviour: subjective norms; the perceptions a person has of the expectations. attitudes; the positive or negative evaluations of the possible consequences of performing a behavior. self efficacy; the situation-specific confidence a person has that are able to change their behaviour and maintain thus behavior change. A common argument is that people cannot be expected to engage in a behaviour, or even to inform intentions to engage in a behaviour unless they believe that they have the necessary skills and abilities to perform the behaviour. Peer support; the availability to support from peers and particularly the extent to which peers also demonstrate or model the relevant behaviour. In the case of engaging people as partners. It is essential to look for ways to facilitate men supporting each other and to presenting alternative role models for advocating gender issues at the workplace. Knowledge form information/education; the extent to which a person has knowledge of the causes and consequences of their current behaviour and possible alternative behaviours.
To change their behaviours, employees need the answers to just five set of questions:- Why Change? How is this important and relevant to me?; What do you want to do differently? (or, in the case of a cacophony of choices…) What are the priorities?; How will I be measured and what are the consequences?; What tools and support do I get to make this change?; WIIFM-What’s in it for me? and for us?
Behavioural Change Communication is indeed the vogue with development agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the British Department for International Development (DFID), other bilateral organizations such as USAID, the European Union, NGOs such as Society for Family Health and private voluntary organizations such as Rotary, Red cross, CARE and others. It aims at a participatory approach. It is people-centered and aims at the needs of the people. For Behaviour change communication (BCC) to be effective, it must go beyond Information, Education, Commjunication (IEC) materials, the latter are effective if multi-media approaches are used including word of mouth (WOM). The current controversy about the effectiveness of IEC materials therefore deserve a critical appraisal. The fact remains that such materials are not worthless but must be beefed up with other media effects/approaches.
In a related development, BCC would be a success if it boosted with both the ACADA and the SMARTA modes in its implementation. ACADA stands for Assessment, Communication Analysis, Design and Action. Assessment is the first step in preparation for planning and implementation of effective communication activities. The problems identified during assessment may not be problems in their own right but manifestations, causes or explanations of the main problems. Communication analysis is therefore desirable to help design messages and strategies that introduce, teach or reinforce performance of desired behaviour for action.
The desired end result in communication is change from a problem behaviour to the desirable behaviour. Since the end result is behaviour change, communication objectives should be stated in behaviour (and not knowledge or attitudes) terms. Good objectives must be specific and must be tight not vague thus the acronym SMART i.e Specific; Objectives clearly state what is desired in terms of the send result. Measurable; Criteria are specified for how the output will be measured in terms of quality, quantity, timeliness and/or cost. Appropriateness; Objectives should be nationally and locally acceptable. Realistic; Objectives should be within realistic control of the individual but ambitious enough to challenge. Time-bound; Time (and/or milestones) by which objectives to be achieved are stated.

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