Mar 29 2011

If local, national and international development action is to increase its effectiveness related to all MDGS it has to sharpen and strengthen policies, strategies, investment and programming actions on the all important people related factors - social norms, engaging people and communities, cultural practices, media environments, information flows, individual behaviours, rights and social organisation.


No matter how good are technologies such as vaccines, services such as health centres or infrastructure such as wireless networks, if there are not effective social engagement processes the chances of broad scale, sustainable and relevant progress are significantly diminished. No use having a vaccine if there is widespread distrust. The best looking health centers need community buy-in to work. Wireless networks can be used for fluff or development substance - nothing automatically says it is the latter. There are many more examples.


Then there are factors like reducing stigma, enhancing the rights of women and children, eliminating sexual violence, participation in decison making, "ownership" of programmes, harnessing and building local capacity, and many more. If these are not addressed they signifcantly undermine technologies and services. They are also important in ther own right. For none of these is there a potential vaccine or other technological innovation.


Grand scale proof of an effective social and behavioural approach comes from the demonstrated impact of the great social movements that have focused on these "people" factors and have dramatically improved the lives of so many people at major scale. Think tobacco, civil rights, women's movement and many more, Compare now to the situations of your parents and grandparents (in most contexts).


However, in the local, national and international development policy and resource allocation context the criticism of specific social and behavioural change strategies and programmes is that there is neither evidence for impact nor clarity on the strategic and programing implications from the research and evaluation data that is available.


This one day meeting for international development policy makers, funders, decision makers and technical experts across any development theme or issue will respond to both of these critiques. It will seek to support the presenting of data based research and analysis, share knowledge and critique designed to support:


- improving the effectiveness, efficiences and scale you will be seeking from your investment decisions, and

- contributing to the ongoing review and renewal of your organisation's policies and strategies.


You can register at 


There are 2 specific objectives for this gathering in Geneva:


1. To present the most compelling data from research and evaluation of long term social and behavioural action at significant scale


2. To present, debate and distill the major development strategic and programming conclusions from the research and evaluation data presented


Three major presentations from people centrally involved in these organisations and processes have been agreed (one more is under discussion and will be added). Each presentation will directly relate to the two objectives abive. The presentations will be:


A. Soul City and Soul Buddyz (South Africa and Southern Africa) which has operated at significant scale for 15 years across a range of development issues. Extensive research and evaluation processes, often with other partners, have been central to their planning and impact assessment. You can see a portfolio of Soul City/Buddyz programming action and research at Soul City and Soul Buddyz



B. The BBC World Service Trust which has spent nearly a decade researching a range of social and behavioural change and media development themes, trends and programme initiatives through their research team. You can see a summarised portfolio of their research and programming activities at



C. Polio eradication which has achieved significant progress over the past decade. Central to that polio eradication prgress has been work that addresses issues of social norms, engaging people and communities, cultural practices, individual behaviours, rights and social organisation. The recent Journal of Health Communicaton special issue included many relevant articles - see



Significant time in the meeting on March 29, 2011 in Geneva will be reserved for both substantive presentations and questions, critical analysis, dialogue and debate amongst those present. The major themes and results from this consuktation will be be featured in an issue of The Drum e-magasine.                               


In order to provide coherence there will be a significant focus on health and HIV/AIDS issues but other issues will also be addressed and the relevance and implications will be across all development issues


If this event at UNAIDS in Geneva, Switzerland on March 29, 2011 is of value to you please register at


Details and further information will be provided to all who register.


This meeting is made possible through the generosity of our partner UNAIDS - thank you.


I very much look forward to the possibility of seeing and working with you in Geneva.


With many best wishes - Warren  




Warren Feek

Executive Director

The Communication  Initiative


1-250-658-6372 - work

1-250-588-8795 - mobile

1-250-658-1728 - fax