“What do you want them to do?” A Social and Behavior Change Communication Strategy Development Workshop 

Manoff Group Representatives delivering presentation

In year two of the project, the Growth through Nutrition Activity conducted two research activities: A Formative Research on Adolescent Nutrition and Trials of Improved Practices on Maternal Nutrition (Maternal TIPs). The goal of this research was to gain insight into adolescent and maternal nutrition behaviors and their determinants in order to support the development of a social and behavioral change (SBC) strategy to help improve nutrition outcomes for children, adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women. 

To highlight this research, a three-day workshop was held from May 2-4, 2018 at the Ambassador Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to disseminate the research findings and begin developing the social and behavior change communication (SBCC) strategy for the project.

The workshop welcomed experts from Amhara, Tigray, SNNP and Oromia region as well as experts from FMOH, Oromia RHB and various local and international NGOs and UNICEF. The interactive workshop was facilitated by Dr. Lydia Clemmons, Senior Advisor, Social & Behavior Change Communication at The Manoff Group (TMG), in collaboration with Wossen Assefa, Senior SBCC Manager, Growth through Nutrition, Save the Children.

At the opening of the workshop, Dr. Clemmons shared a story she heard growing up as a child, of a housemaid whose extremely literal interpretations of written instructions cause chaos in the household. The purpose of the anecdote was to challenge SBCC experts to rethink and revise their communication strategies in developing tailored SBCC materials through better understanding of their audience. The experts met in groups to discuss the research findings that were new and/or surprised them using the theme song “What do you want them to do? What do you want them to do?”

The group discussions and resulting recommendations on SBCC and non-SBCC interventions provided valuable input into SBCC strategies. A surprising finding was the adolescent perception that drinks such as “Mirinda” were categorized as good foods and their consumption was considered by adolescents as a reflection of modern life. Another notable finding was the strong influence adolescent girls have on their families, especially their fathers, in relation to food purchase and consumption.

On the last day of the workshop, Dr. Sisay Sinamo, Senior Program Manager of the Federal Program Delivery Unit, gave a presentation on the Seqota Declaration. Dr. Sisay emphasized that the Seqota Declaration is not a separate program, but an innovative implementation strategy for the National Nutrition Programme (NNP) program, with the aim of ending stunting by 2030. Although the initial phase of the program focuses on food insecure woredas in the northern part of Ethiopia affected by the 1984 famine, the program is designed to be scaled up to include other regions, utilizing lessons learned from the initial phase of program implementation. Dr. Sisay reiterated that this is a promising government initiative to end stunting by 2030, with the potential to change the world’s negative perspective associated with Ethiopia in relation to the 1984 famine. 

The successful meeting concluded on Friday, May 4, 2018 after experts met in groups one last time to give their final recommendations on designing an effective SBCC strategy for the project going forward.

By Delila Tesfaye, Communication Associate

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