This book is aimed at people who are involved in designing, implementing
and monitoring social sector programmes and projects for developing and
disadvantaged communities, anywhere in the world. The intended reader may
wear many different hats: programmer, programme planner, communicator,
communication programmer, evaluator, researcher, economist, etc. The reader
may be working in the fields of education, health, water and sanitation,
agriculture extension or in intersectoral programmes such as HIV/AIDS prevention
and care, community development, emergency relief, child protection, etc.
He or she could be from a government ministry or department, a national or
international non-governmental organization, a United Nations or bilateral
agency, or the private sector.
Very often such development professionals work in a
compart-mentalized way. Each applies his or her own skills and knowledge
to a particular problem area. This book is an attempt to bring together the
best practices from a number of different disciplines into programming for
behaviour development and behaviour change, an area of growing interest around
the world today.
Why is there such a growing interest?
Development professionals are experiencing increasing pressure to bring about
sustainable change within the communities and areas in which they work. This
push is coming from the sponsors of development projects and from the management
of development agencies who are concerned with an apparent stagnation in
the progress of their programmes, after almost four decades of activity in
the developing world. Recent deep cuts in the budgets of almost all international
development agencies has driven the issue to crisis levels.
A large part of the current discontent stems from apparently insurmountable
obstacles to developing long term changes in the practices of people who
are the intended clients of projects. Evaluation of completed
interventions, carried out immediately upon the termination of projects,
may reveal satisfactory levels of practising the desired behaviour.
However, follow-up studies often show sharp drops in these levels.
The shift in evaluation emphasis, from quantifying physical outputs to less
tangible appraisals of the changes in peoples behaviour, is part of
a broader thrust aimed at promoting sustainable development. Many programmes
seek to influence the development of behaviour, especially of children and
young people, or to change unhealthy behaviour, especially of adults. This
new emphasis on behaviour development and change, seeks to engage people
in adopting new ideas about the physical or social environment, internalising
them, and then expressing them in new practices.
Behaviour development and change
Adopting new kinds of behaviour has been the chief aim of the health sector
for a number of decades. It was the primary focus of numerous health education
campaigns before to such initiatives were taken up by organizations working
on environmental concerns. The escalating numbers of people testing HIV-positive
has spurred this thrust within the health sector and because HIV/AIDS prevention
and care have become national priority areas in many countries, behavioural
approaches in programming have attracted much attention and interest from
other sectors of the development community.
However, development professionals, in general, are discovering very quickly
what those working in the health sector have known for a long time - that
developing healthy behaviour, or changing unhealthy behaviour, for individuals
and communities, is very difficult. At the same time, they have discovered
that when this is successful, the impact is long-term and extremely rewarding.
Effective solutions to challenges posed by programmes dedicated to behaviour
development and change have been available for some time. They remain elusive
to programmers because the solutions are dispersed across many sectors and
amongst many professions. Although much of past development programming may
not have been designed primarily to influence peoples behaviour, it
has addressed behaviour issues indirectly. As a result, we have a pool of
highly relevant programme design and management experiences, which, when
brought together, offer programmers solid ground on which to design and mount
This book is a multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary synthesis of field
experiences and lessons learned, which offers fresh insight and debate in
the context of behaviour development and change. Its aim is to challenge
traditional approaches to programme design, using a range of different
perspectives from the personal to the political, with a view to increasing
the impact and sustainability of international development programmes.
Chapter One: What Makes People Change Their Behaviour? Theories
and Frameworks is intended as an introduction to the area. It offers
a clear and wide-ranging overview of behaviour theory from the inter-related
perspectives offered by sociology, psychology and anthropology. The chapter
explains and describes the key elements of salient theories and frameworks,
identifying key behavioural determinants and translating these into lessons
to be learned for sustainable programme design. However, the author emphasizes
that many theories of behaviour are grounded in Western individualistic culture
and demonstrates how they must be adapted when applied to developing country
contexts. The writer concludes that programmes are most effective when supported
by behavioural theories or conceptual frameworks which take into account
Chapter Two: The Age of Information: Behaviour In Context
situates behaviour in the context of contemporary society, which is evolving
at an unprecedented rate, driven to a great extent by new
information-communication technologies. It contains case studies which illustrate
how information has been a catalyst for change but, from a development
perspective, it reminds us of the risks inherent in an information-centred
approach. It raises the vital issues of values, culture and ethics in the
context of behaviour development and change and concludes with the argument
that information is a necessary but insufficient ingredient for knowledge.
Chapter Three: Motivation To Act: Effective Communication
describes the process of effective programme planning from a communication
perspective and offers concise definitions of concepts used in communication
for development. It highlights some key components of successful programme
design and reviews some effective methods of communication used to motivate
people, such as interpersonal communication and social mobilisation. It draws
upon concrete experiences from different continents and cultures, covering
a variety of programmes.
Chapter Four: Ability to Act: Strengthening Peoples Life
Skills distils a rich body of experiences from the field of
participatory learning. Life skills programmes set out to equip people with
the necessary skills to interact effectively within their community and to
play a meaningful part in bringing about the behaviour change which they
desire. In principal, this approach aims to empower everyone especially
the minority and disadvantaged members of the community not only with
knowledge and skills, but also with the confidence and ability to initiate
and sustain changes in their lives.
Chapter Five: Shifting Boundaries: Creating an Enabling
Environment addresses the role of the wider environment in either
facilitating or constraining change. The environment here includes not only
the natural and physical environment, but also factors which can affec t
how we behave, such as: policies and legislation, economic status, provision
of health and education services, cultural norms and religious beliefs. The
authors argue that people need more than information, motivation and skills
to initiate and sustain behaviour change - they also need an enabling
environment, which facilitates rather than blocks the changes they wish to
Chapter 6: Behaviour and Beyond: An Evaluation Perspective
describes the different methods which development professionals can adopt
to evaluate the progress and results of their activities in evolving desired
behaviour, amongst the communities they serve. Evaluation is recommended
here, not simply to satisfy project administration requirements, but to give
programmers criteria which will allow them to choose between different strategies
and approaches, with the participation of programme clients. Such systematic
reflection helps them to acquire and accumulate invaluable data, enhancing
and expanding the skills of those involved.
Overall, the chapters of this book elaborate a new model (see below) which,
it is proposed, encompasses all of the necessary ingredients for behaviour
development and behaviour change programmes and, ultimately, the empowerment
of people. Providing timely and relevant information, employing appropriate
and effective communication for motivation, supporting peoples ability
to act through the acquisition of life skills, and fostering an enabling
environment these are proposed as the essential elements required
for sustaining behavioural change and developing healthy behaviour. When
combined with extensive research on the perceptions, attitudes and beliefs
which are the expressions of peoples value systems, these elements
provide a model which offers clarity in a difficult area, as well as a promise
of greater success in our programmes.
Behaviour development and change model
At the centre of the model is the self. However, the pages which follow will
reveal that in most cultures in the developing world, it is difficult to
separate the self from family, peers and community. It has been proposed
that individuals in developing societies are more governed by these social
forces than they are in Europe and North America. Therefore, behavioural
theories must be critically examined adapted and modified when they are applied
in developing country contexts. However, behaviour theories provide a conceptual
framework and are very helpful in analysing situations and developing objectives
Information must be provided in a timely, relevant and appropriate manner
to the different groups who are being addressed by a programme. The same
information should not be offered in the same form to all. And without carefully
shaping the information into communication formats which provide motivation
to act, people will simply ignore the messages. In other words, information
can be formulated in interesting ways and communicated through various media
in a manner that keeps peoples attention and involves them. Effective
communication strategies often allow people to use and shape the information
themselves, through participatory processes. This is when information becomes
However, if people do not have the skills or abilities to use the knowledge
they have acquired, the preceding efforts may be fruitless. People need essential
life skills. Traditionally, educational systems have concentrated on cognitive
skills, such as reading and writing, and vocational and physical skills.
However, today it has been recognized that psycho-social life skills are
vital. These skills consist of decision making, problem solving, critical
thinking and creative thinking, communication skills, interpersonal relationship
skills, empathy, self awareness, and coping with stress and emotions.Home
and school environment often constrain the development of such skills. Children
are taught to learn facts and not to question authority. Creative problem
solving is not encouraged.
However, even if people acquire information, motivation and relevant skills,
they still may be unable to act if they do not live in an enabling environment.
Besides the social environment, mentioned above, appropriate and accessible
health and social services and supplies must be present. There should be
appropriate policy and legislation to ensure that the programme remains a
national priority and will not be withdrawn. In addition, educational systems
and cultural, religious, socio-political, socio-economic and physical
environmental factors will assist or hinder the adoption of new behaviour.
These elements of the environment must be carefully considered when designing
programmes. Also, organizations may be very facilitating or very disempowering.
It is difficult to promote empowerment in a disempowering organization.
Facilitating organizations allow their employees the scope to foster positive
behaviour change and, sometimes, the empowerment of people.
Finally, the values held by people in different cultural contexts are of
paramount importance when designing programmes. The issue of values cuts
across all of the above factors. Values are expressed by perceptions, attitudes
and beliefs and these must be carefully researched and understood for programmes
to be effective. If we do not take peoples value systems into account,
the programme will hit a brick wall.
The chapters which follow will explore the above ideas in greater detail.
But to summarize:
Accurate and timely information is a necessary, but not sufficient, prerequisite
to behaviour development and change. Information alone seldom leads to behaviour
Communicating information through appropriate channels in motivating formats
is one essential component of successful programmes; however,
People need essential life skills to act on the information received, no
matter how motivated they are; and
Their wider environment must support and facilitate change for programme
effects to be sustained.
In addition, it is hoped that the reader will learn two key lessons through
the following analysis:
Specialists working in different development sectors should coordinate and
integrate their efforts; and
Programmes must be participatory in nature, or people-centred.
There is no quick fix or magic bullet. We must take
the longer road of involving people, in evolving new and positive