Operational Considerations

Operational Considerations For Coordinating SBCC and Service Delivery Programs

In service communication, effective coordination is the key to ensuring desired behavioral outcomes – increased demand, improved uptake, and consistent long-term maintenance – across the three stages. The Design section of this I-Kit covers principles that service delivery programs can follow when designing and implementing their own communication activities and materials. This Operational Considerations section covers principles service delivery programs can follow when coordinating with SBCC partners.

Coordinating SBCC with service delivery often involves partners with different timelines, objectives and ways of working. It requires investment in planning, participatory message development, regular check-ins during implementation, revision of approaches and messages, and joint monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of activities. This all requires time and communication at a project management and implementation level.

The table below summarizes key collaboration points for service delivery and SBCC partners.

  • Collaborate on formative research to understand key audiences and behavioral drivers
  • Ensure balance between demand and supply (mobilizing for services that are available and accessible)
  • Use participatory design processes for strategy and messaging.
  • Define roles and boundaries for all stakeholders (service providers, SBCC actors, civil society organizations/community-based organizations)
  • Create tools and processes for referral and linkages
  • Meet and coordinate regularly to monitor activities, highlight what’s working, and establish platforms for collective problem solving
  • Coordinate supportive supervision to identify and correct issues with supply-side and demand-side activities
  • Monitor impact of messages and activities and revise accordingly
  • Ensure balance between supply and demand
  • Measure SBCC’s impact on service delivery and the impact service quality has on demand
  • Share lessons learned


Why Is Coordinating SBCC with Service Delivery Important?

Coordination between service delivery and SBCC partners helps programs achieve desired behavioral and health outcomes by ensuring smooth operations and a balance between supply and demand for services. If strategies and messages are out of sequence, clients could show up at the facility for services that are not available, or services could be underutilized because clients do not understand their value or where to access them. If messages are not harmonized, potential contradictions between what is communicated in the community and at the clinic can confuse clients and undermine services. If a client returns home without understanding where to find support or what to do next, he or she may not adopt or sustain the new behavior.

Common SBCC/Services Coordination Models

Some of the most common scenarios in which service delivery and SBCC partners may coordinate include the following:

  • SBCC and services implemented through separate projects or organizations – In this arrangement, partners may aim to collaborate in overlapping geographies, with common audiences, or for the same health intervention. In some cases, they may have a formal agreement designating partner roles, such as a memorandum of understanding. Each organization has its own scope of work, budget, and organizational chart. An example is the Communication for Healthy Communities (CHC) project in Uganda.
  • SBCC and services implemented through a single project with separate organizations – In this scenario, one partner leads SBCC and another partner leads services, although the project has one overall budget and organizational chart. Often, the technical partner seconds managers or advisors for SBCC and services. Examples include the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative and Tupange.
  • SBCC and services implemented through a single project with one lead partner – The project has one overall budget and organizational chart. All staff members, regardless of their roles, are employees of the same organization.

The types of organizations that partner also vary. Some common scenarios are listed below:

  • The national or state-level Ministry of Health coordinates public family planning services with an NGO partner responsible for demand creation.
  • An international NGO providing HIV testing and referrals for treatment collaborates with another NGO with SBCC expertise.
  • An international NGO contracts smaller CBOs for a variety of services and communication activities for orphans and vulnerable children delivered at community level.
  • An NGO with SBCC expertise partners with a group of socially franchised or networked providers to create demand for a package of essential health services.

Coordination between service delivery and SBCC may also take on different structures in order to maximize coverage and reach, strengthen linkages to designated clinics and leverage individual organizational capacity. These models may include geographical or cross-sectoral coordination.

































Donors play an important role in helping SBCC and service delivery partners coordinate efforts. Donors set technical priorities and determine funding cycles. They also set project cycle and workplanning schedules. The way donors design projects can help establish partner roles and can ensure that communication activities reach both the national and the community or service center level. Donors can also help encourage or maintain a knowledge management system that enables project partners to access service communication materials and summaries of activities.


Geographical Coordination:

  • An SBCC partner designs a national communication campaign to increase demand for services. The services partner implements community outreach and/or mobilization activities to encourage clients to visit designated clinics. The clinics are those supported by the service delivery partner at sub-national and/or community level. An example is the Jhpiego and the Tanzania Capacity and Communication Project (TCCP) partnership (AIDSFREE Tanzania VMMC).
  • An SBCC partner implements community mobilization and some outreach in select regions or communities to create demand, provide specific services at community level, and make referrals. The service delivery partner builds capacity among providers who accept referrals from community agents and who provide health services that cannot be delivered by community health workers due to national policy limitations or capacity gaps. Two examples from Nigeria are the Expanded Social Marketing Project and SHOPS.

Coordination Across Sectors:

  • An SBCC partner collaborates with the public health sector to provide facility-based communication in or around selected facilities. Activities include health talks and clinic outreach events to drive demand for services provided through the public sector.
  • A service delivery partner collaborates with community-based organizations that drive demand for select services, either provided directly by the service delivery partner or provided by private or public facilities supported through training and capacity building by an NGO service delivery partner. An example is the Letlama project in Lesotho.

Applying Key Coordination Principles

Whatever the model, effective coordination between services and SBCC relies on the following key principles (click on each principle to learn more):