Over the past year, we have done plenty of learning and thinking about what social behaviour change means for Sightsavers.
Social behaviour change (SBC) is about understanding and influencing healthy and inclusive behaviours, and providing a supportive social environment in which these behaviours can flourish. If we can encourage people to change their everyday behaviours, then we might get some way towards having healthier and more inclusive societies.
We’ve also thought about how to improve the clarity and guidance on SBC for our staff and partners. Take a look below to see what we’ve been working on.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Sightsavers’ Ascend West and Central Africa programme rapidly adapted its neglected tropical disease (NTD) activities towards reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in 11 countries. In the absence of a vaccine, the only way we had to stop the disease from spreading was to change people’s behaviours.
We developed a communications campaign to influence behaviours that would prevent COVID-19, together with creative agency M&C Saatchi World Services and consortium partners. Some of the campaign and activities can be seen in this storymap.
We created a learning brief that described how we made this SBC campaign more accessible for people with disabilities. This led to a set of recommendations for our SBC work, which included:
Learn why behaviour change is so crucial to Sightsavers’ mission to protect sight and fight disease.Read the blog
Sightsavers recently held a learning exchange with ActionAid to share how both organisations have used the behaviour change wheel. This is what we call a comprehensive ‘SBC framework’; in other words, a set of steps that enables us to identify the exact behaviours that need to change, and how to influence them.
The behaviour change wheel can help us to understand and influence complex topics such as gender-based violence and disability stigma and discrimination.
ActionAid shared how it has applied behavioural science to reduce gender-based violence as part of its work in Kenya, Nepal and Ethiopia. The organisation has also developed a field guide for their staff and the wider sector. This can help practitioners to design interventions that better understand and influence the priority behaviours in order to create change.
Sightsavers shared experience on Ghana Somubi Dwumadie (the Ghana Participation Programme), a four-year disability programme in Ghana with a specific focus on mental health.
As part of the consortium led by Options, Sightsavers has also been using the behaviour change wheel to design and develop targeted interventions in Ghana. These interventions aim to reduce negative and discriminatory attitudes, behaviours and norms faced by people with disabilities, including people with mental health conditions.
Overall, this was a valuable sharing and learning session. We were given an insight into how the behaviour change wheel is being used by our partners in other settings, which has helped us to think through other ways that we could use this tool in future.
Sightsavers has gathered practical learning from a project in Uganda involving the economic empowerment of young people with disabilities. The project’s goal was to support young people to gain employable skills, as well as increasing their opportunities for employment and access to financial services.
We used a participatory process to develop behaviour change interventions. Our work focused on reducing stigma and discrimination faced by youth with disabilities and supporting them to act as equal economic actors and valued members of their community.
Sightsavers has also recently published a systematic review of the literature about disability-related stigma and discrimination in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. The recommendations from this review are significant for our SBC work as they show us the importance of:
All of this learning is shared, discussed and used by the SBC community of practice. This is a space for Sightsavers staff who are delivering projects or who are interested in SBC to come together, provide peer support, and exchange the learning, ideas and challenges that they are facing in their SBC work.
A group of staff from across the organisation have also been working together to develop an SBC toolkit. This will give Sightsavers staff the guidance and tools to better understand and influence the behaviours of people and communities we work with.
The toolkit is being developed to improve clarity, provide guidance on SBC, and will be used as a tool to increase our organisational capacity. It is strongly embedded in learning from across Sightsavers programmes and from good practice developed from across the social behaviour change sector.
We are moving forward with our social behaviour change priorities by gathering learning, sharing our experiences, and identifying ways to strengthen the quality and effectiveness of our SBC work.
Cathy Stephen is Sightsavers’ global technical lead for behaviour change communication.
Sightsavers’ Boubacar Morou Dicko shares the obstacles Mali faced on the road to eliminating trachoma, and how the country was able to overcome them.
In 2018, Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper took to the TED stage to talk about the importance of eliminating trachoma. Since then, 14 million people have been protected from the disease, but further progress hangs in the balance.
Sightsavers’ Edwin Maleko shares the impact of an inclusive eye health programme on communities and eye care services in Singida and Morogoro.