The development of social and behaviour change (SBC) activities at PCI begins with a thorough understanding of the communities who we work with and the social environments within which they operate. The project teams use a mix of formative research methods like ethnographic immersions, participatory learning techniques and rapid assessments combined with use of extant research and secondary data to uncover the informational, cultural, social-normative, economic, environmental and other barriers that prevent the communities from reducing harmful practices and adopting healthier behaviors. This understanding helps the management teams to refine the context and develop a clear Theory of Change (ToC) for every project, often guided by theoretical models such as the Socio-Ecological model, Integrated Health Belief model, Theory of Planned Behaviour, Stages of Change model, Self-Determination theory or the more recent Cognitive-Behavioral theories. While on the one hand the ToC gives the project teams a clear understanding of the causal linkages between the proposed interventions and the resulting outcomes, on the other hand, it lays down the project’s overarching framework for monitoring its progress and performance and evaluating the impact in terms of achieving the behaviour change objectives.
Equipped with an understanding of the minds and hearts of our target segments, the project teams set out to work with the communities to co-design, test and refine creative solutions by actively involving them at every step in the process. Different stages of this human centred design approach borrow copiously from theoretical constructs like the nudge theory and behavioural economics to develop solutions that are feasible, effective, sustainable, and scalable. The solutions co-developed with the active participation of the communities not only ensure a high degree of ownership by them but also are found to be more effective because they embody the perspective of community members and the social environment within which they operate. The project managers thus become more of facilitators empowering the communities to initiate sustainable behavior change with shared success. Successful projects tend to go on the autopilot mode of a cyclical and adaptive approach to program management, constantly learning and improving the performance from the implementation-feedback loop.
Among the various approaches used by PCI for implementing SBC interventions, a very successful one has been the 360-degree communication approach. The 360-degree approach uses different touchpoints in the average day of our target segments’ lives to create a surround-sound effect and reinforce the message in unique ways, increasing their conviction to adopt and endorse the behaviour to others in ways that can create social support and an enabling environment for others to adopt. These touchpoints could be as simple as organizing a contest among SHG members to cook a nutritious meal for children under 2 years of age – an activity that not only increases their individual and collective efficacy levels, but also facilitates the process of social learning and cohesion, which are vital to the process of sustainable behaviour change.
Even when they prove to be very successful, the SBC interventions seldom remain static – often, they evolve with time and contemporize for emerging segments. For example, many of PCI’s successful behaviour change interventions have evolved into newer digital avatars for the younger, social media savvy and networked segments. Using the advances in gaming, artificial intelligence, cloud networking and mobile telephony, the digital interventions go beyond raising the awareness of audience by engaging them at every step of the journey from awareness through liking, conviction and adoption.