I have been somewhat dismayed in the past few years that (ED: HIV/AIDS related agencies highlighted) have in my view pretty much abandoned previous commitments to social and behavioural change communication, and in so doing have failed either to keep up to date or to forge ahead in evolving perspectives on the subject.

This has been acutely felt in HIV prevention where the overwhelming evidence of the past year is that HIV prevention efforts are going backwards - despite or perhaps because of the the naive faith in the impact of treatment as prevention. At the same time though, my last 3 years here in Zimbabwe have reinforced my view that donor driven SBCC is doomed to failure - there is simply no way that external actors whether bilateral or multilateral can foster authentic transformation on the ground. The solutions have to lie with much more removed and arms length mechanisms for financial support or partnership building or co-creation efforts.

In a general sense therefore I think the mechanism you and Rafael are floating is a good idea.

My inclination would be that it needs to be flavoured with notions of nudge, behavioural economics, big data and the whole new array of social media influencing techniques that advertising agencies these days get excited about. There is some good UN work in this area (and UNICEF has certainly been at the forefront of it) but too much has been inexpert and badly thought through (every month or so I see across my desk yet another proposal for a social media platform that promises to captivate Zimbabwean youth but they all rise and fall without trace).

I hope these comments are helpful and I will see if there are possibilities of my engaging with this effort more in the future.

Michael Bartos

(Cross-posted from Consultation: Global Mechanism for Communication, Media, Social and Behaviour Change to HIV/AIDS Network)