Chapter 7. Activities and Interventions (Step 4)

© 2007 Bizimungu Kisakye, Courtesy of Photoshare

© 2007 Bizimungu Kisakye, Courtesy of Photoshare

After all of the research, planning and decision making, it is time for the team to plan how to engage in SBCC through activities and interventions. Develop messaging and select channels simultaneously in order to effectively communicate with the intended audiences. Below are additional recommendations.

Carefully select activities based on the type of messaging, ability to reach the intended audience through a variety of media/channels that they use, and the timeline, costs and available resources.

Use findings from the situation analysis to guide selection of activities and interventions.

Consider including facility-based communication channels, as audiences may spend substantial amounts of time in health center waiting areas.

Any SBCC program should include activities across a range of intervention types and communication channels. No matter which channels are selected, they should all communicate mutually reinforcing messages. It is also important to consider linkages with other programs and systems. The following are examples of potential areas for linkages when designing an SBCC program for Ebola:

NGOs/Faith-based organizations (FBOs), community leaders, municipal authorities and civil society organizations

mothers’/women’s groups, men’s groups, youth groups, sports clubs

pre-service education, continuing education and in-service refresher training initiatives for clinical and non-clinical providers and health practitioners

other cross-sectoral programs (e.g., agriculture, sports, education, economic empowerment)


Types of Communication Activities

  Advocacy operates at the political, social and individual levels to mobilize political and social commitment for social and/or policy change. It aims to create an enabling environment to ask for greater resources, encourage fair allocation of resources and remove barriers to policy implementation.

Advocacy can also inform policy decisions related to Ebola. For example, after listening to the community about their perceptions around safe burial, this information can be conveyed to policy makers to help ensure that the safe burial policies address both the health and safety precautions, as well as the community and family desires for dignified and culturally acceptable burials.


 Social and Community Mobilization brings relevant sectors such as organizations, policy makers, networks and communities together to raise awareness, empower individuals and groups for action, and work towards creating an enabling environment and effecting positive behavior and/or social change. Community mobilization is a participatory process through which individuals, groups or organizations plan, carry out and evaluate activities to improve lives of community members. A successful community mobilization effort not only solves problems, but also increases the capacity of a community to identify and address its own needs. It can also include activities such as rallies, public meetings, folk dramas, folk songs and sporting events.


 IPC/C is based on one-to-one communication and is often done with a trusted and influential communicator such as a religious leader, counselor, teacher, health provider or even a volunteer. Training and counseling tools or job aids can also help congregants/clients and counselors improve their interactions. Personnel tasked with implementing IPC/C training, tools and aids should be trained in IPC/C techniques, including how to integrate key messages and how to use the tools and job aids effectively.


 Call Centers provide rapid information before, during and after an outbreak, and are a vital part of containing it. The operators address misinformation, rumors and stigma, and provide critical information on how to prevent Ebola and where to go for help.


 ICTs are platforms for enabling communication and promoting the exchange of information through technology. ICTs include computer technologies, mobile and smart phones, and the use of SMS as well as social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, e-Forums, Springboard and chat rooms. This approach also includes web sites, e-mails, listservs, eLearning, eToolkits and message boards. Digital media can disseminate tailored messages to the intended audience on a large scale while also receiving audience feedback and encouraging real-time conversations, thus combining mass communication and interpersonal interaction. SMS and cellular technology are ideal for communicating with health workers and for aiding surveillance teams to supply data quickly. Digital communication can also be used for rapid research, for example using SMS technology.


 Mass Media can reach large audiences cost-effectively through radio, television and newspapers. According to a review of mass media campaigns, those that follow the principles of effective campaign design and are well executed can have a small to moderate effect, not only on health knowledge, beliefs and attitudes, but on behaviors as well. Given the potential to reach thousands of people, a small to moderate effect size will have a greater impact on public health than would an approach that has a large effect, but only reaches a small number of people. Closed circuit media should be considered if there is a benefit to re-airing TV spots in health care facility waiting rooms (via VCR or DVD player) or through the use of radio-listener groups (for radio spots, etc.). Mass media can also reach a large number of community volunteers or community mobilizers with messages that may be relevant for the broader audience as well.


 Entertainment Education, utilization of the power of drama and music to command attention and speak to the heart, is well documented. Well-written TV and radio drama and entertaining spots can attract people and model the sought-after behaviors. Using top scriptwriters and famous actors can catch people’s attention, and persuade them to change their behaviors. Popular musicians can also be enlisted in the cause and create songs with messages. These can go viral: seen on YouTube, shared through cell phones via Bluetooth technology, and used as ring tones on phones to create discussions and further spread the message.


UNMIL/Emmanuel Tobey

UNMIL/Emmanuel Tobey

 Support Media/Mid-Media’s reach is less than that of mass media and includes posters, brochures and billboards. Mid-media is an important tool in creating consistency with a uniform set of messages and a common look and feel of a campaign. By using a consistent campaign theme, mid-media can extend and reinforce the messages on the mass media, with a more durable set of materials.

Other helpful tips for designing SBCC interventions:

 Engage stakeholders and key audiences in the design of interventions that reflect their views and realities.

 Design interventions that allow key audiences to discover for themselves, rather than just be told what is right—such as facilitated discussions using cue cards.

 Design interventions that discuss barriers and how to overcome them.

Illustrative Example: Activities & Interventions

View examples of activities and interventions designed for an Ebola communications campaign.

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