Blog: IGNITE Gender and Nutrition Experts Undertake Social and Behavior Change Training
In March, the Impacting Gender and Nutrition through Innovative Technical Exchange in Agriculture (IGNITE) gender and nutrition experts undertook a Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) training led by Dr. Kathryn Merckel and Winnie Osulah as part of preparations to build the capacity of local service providers (LSPs). These LSPs will ultimately be expected to provide technical assistance that incorporates SBC as a strategy to IGNITE clients. The training came in the wake of the International SBC Summit held in Morocco last December and was an excellent opportunity to share lessons learned with all IGNITE gender and nutrition experts. SBC is the systematic application of interactive, theory-based, and research-driven approaches aimed at catalyzing changes and societal behaviors such as habits, beliefs, values, and norms which are often influenced by many factors including policy environment, institutions, services, community, family and friends, and individuals. SBC interventions play an integral role in improving gender and nutrition outcomes through nurturing social change processes, systems strengthening, enhanced community engagement, and using communication for change.
SBC is most effective when the design is human-centered and takes a participatory approach during program design and implementation. Developing specific objectives based on the root cause of the issue is crucial in creating an effective SBC program. Audiences are identified for each objective and those achievable are prioritized despite barriers that may exist. The implementation stage involves putting the planned activities into action, piloting ideas, learning, and adapting to unforeseen changes while working closely with the audience who will be impacted the most. The theory of change provides an outline of the long-term goals, assumptions, and interventions required to achieve desired change and indicators of measuring expected outcomes.
SBC in gender and nutrition interventions is a gradual process that requires regular assessments of whether the program is achieving its intended goals and objectives, and identifying successful strategies that can be replicated in future programs.
Too much focus on individual change rather than social and structural changes, inadequate understanding of factors determining behavior, and too many conflicting messages are some of the reasons why some SBC interventions fail.
IGNITE has been working with different partners and institutions to integrate nutrition and gender into their businesses and agriculture interventions through mainstreaming gender and nutrition-sensitive approaches.
“It’s important we understand SBC in gender and nutrition programs but also at institutional level and use skills and approaches learnt to achieve the desired change” Dr. Catherine Macharia-Mutie Deputy Team Leader IGNITE
“It is exciting to see IGNITE’s work cascaded to local institutions by helping them integrate gender and nutrition into their work and by working closely with people to cultivate trust and influence behavior change. This will be a great legacy for IGNITE” Dr. Kathryn Merckel, Technical Director Nutrition and Food Systems ACDI/VOCA.
“SBC is part of IGNITE’s work because we help clients identify the desirable change to existing problems related to gender and nutrition by leveraging on institutions to support their program design”. Dr. Sam Oando, Research Manager IGNITE
A similar SBC training for LSPs will be held in April.