Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Social and Behaviour Change Communication Model for Climate Change Agenda in Cross River State

30 July 2019 

The Cross River State Government deepened her resolve as a pro-climate change destination pursuant to the realization of sustainable development goal 13 which is Climate Action by the establishment of a Ministry of Climate Change and Forestry, the thematization of the Annual Calabar Carnival with pro-climate change motifs, the Miss Africa Beauty Pageantry, the Green Carnival and the likes ! Also the formation of tree planting clubs in some secondary schools in Calabar, however all of these amount to piecemeal approaches instead of a wholistic and intensive communication with stakeholders of Cross River State on the pro- Climate issue ! 

What is Social and Behaviour Change Communication ? According to USAID, Social and Behaviour Change Communication is "the systematic application of interactive , theory based and research driven communication process and strategies to address tipping points for change at the individual, community and social levels". A tipping point here means the dynamics of social change , where trends rapidly evolve into permanent changes. This can be driven by a naturally occurring event or a strong determinant for change- such as political will that provides the final push to "tip over" barriers to change. 

Social and Behaviour Change Communication or SBCC has three characteristics : 

1. SBCC is an interactive, researched planned and strategic process aimed at changing social conditions and individual behaviours. 

2. SBCC applies a comprehensive model to find an effective tipping point for change by examining individual knowledge, motivation and other Behaviour Change Communication concepts and social, cultural and gender norms, skills, physical access and legislation that contribute to an enabling environment. 

3. SBCC operates through three main strategies, namely : advocacy , social mobilization and behaviour change communication. 

Basically Social and Behaviour Change Communication is a communication model for practice in Public Health however it can be applied to any sector desirous of effectively re-orientating her stakeholders ! Social and Behaviour Change Communication subsumes three strategies : advocacy , social mobilization and behaviour change communication with their attendant communication tactics, focus and modes of operation respectively. 

Advocacy is the process of creating supportive policy, social conditions for the citizens' wellbeing and effective programming for a supportive and enabling environment. Advocacy is also to raise awareness, knowledge and resources ( materials, financial, moral and time devotion) and political / social and media leadership commitment for development actions and goals. There are three types of advocacy : policy advocacy, programme advocacy and media advocacy. Policy advocacy includes data and approaches to politicians and administrators about impact of the issue at the national, state and LGA levels and the need for action. Programme advocacy is used at the local community level to convince opinion leaders about the need for local action. Media advocacy is when the media puts the Advocacy issue in the front burner, sets agenda and maintains regular coverage of Advocacy issue. Advocacy tools include : press release, fact sheet , position paper, video film, radio spot, talking points, feature article, drama. Advocacy events include sensitization, rally, concert, debate, workshops etc Advocacy techniques include : visits / meetings, follow up to commitments, phone calls, public education, oral presentation, community meetings etc. 

Social mobilization is a process of bringing together all feasible and practical inter sectoral social partners and allies to determine felt need and raise awareness of and demand for a particular programme to assist in the delivery of resources and services and to strengthen community participation and self reliance. Thus social mobilization is about wider participation, coalition building and ownership including community mobilization. Social mobilization activities include : group meetings, community meetings, community dialogues, , compound meetings , partnership sessions, school activities, music, song, dance , road shows, community drama, leaflets, posters, pamphlets, home visits. 

There will also be the need for establishing a ward climate action committee in local government areas of the state. The objective of the ward climate action committee is to enhance participation and achievement of the state's climate change objectives in local governance. Ward committees are one way that community members can be engaged and mobilised to take action. The ward chairman is the chairperson of the ward committee. The ward climate change secretary will be assigned by the council to play a role in supporting the ward chairman. The ward climate action committee will naturally comprise clan heads, village heads, chiefs, youth leaders, women leaders, religious leaders, school heads and ward councillors. Their meeting venues can be town halls, chief palaces, court halls, school halls etc. 

Social and Behaviour Change Communication approach is the most appropriate model for communicating with the stakeholders of Cross River State because it uses communication to positively influence knowledge, attitudes, norms and cultural practices, it is imperative therefore to use the SBCC approach to enable the actualization of the Cross River State Ministry of Climate Change and Forestry vision ! 

Paul Ingiona Adie is a Public Relations Consultant and a Registered Integrated Marketing Comunicator with the Certified Marketing Comunications Institute of Nigeria (CMCIN).

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