The Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI) is using social communication change techniques and the media to influence attitudes in Nigeria.
By Anthony Maliki
The media as an important tool in influencing development and change cannot be under estimated. As such governments and organisations engage the media as partner at making people understand the thrust of an issue.
In this wise, the Executive Director, Centre for Communication and Social Impact, (CCSI), Babafunke Fagbemi, also strongly believes communication can change lives. CCSI, a non-governmental organization in Abuja is devoted to community level interventions in Nigeria.
But in the last one year, Fagbemi has found herself fighting another battle. She is using strategic communication in Social Behaviour Change to fight corruption and other development issues in the country. For many years, the government has fought corruption in governance, arresting and prosecuting corrupt officials.
However, the big part of the fight would have to do with the people and the way they perceive or respond to acts of corruption. It will also address what Nigerians see as an act of corruption and not only in monetary terms, but also behavior.
For CCSI, the battle to change the corruption narrative in Nigeria has a lot to do with the people and behavior change. While arrests and prosecution of indicted officials would continue to serve as deterrent, the bigger fight would be changing the people’s reception to acts of corruption.
To fight this battle, the centre came up with a project tagged “Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C).” Though implemented by a consortium of organisations using different methodology, the CCSI is at the core of the campaign, attempting to use communication and the media as a big strategy.
Fagbemi told Daily Trust on Sunday that: “We believe that communication saves lives.” It is in the belief in this mantra that she has deployed in the field for many years focusing on the central role of communication and the media in social and behavior change for development. According to her, the campaign leverage on social capital and social networks to promote a corruption adverse mentality. “Preference is placed on socio ecological model as it reinforces change not only at individual or interpersonal change but also at community level. It recognizes that people act based on their interactions with other people in their network and how they behave or what they think,” she revealed.
The CCSI has made profitable use of the SBC process including various interventions in Child Birth Spacing, Nutrition, Malaria prevention and peace and conflict resolution using the strategic tool of the five stages to behavior change.
These stages are Pre-knowledge, Knowledge, Approval, Intention, Practice and Advocacy, however at the core of it all is the media.
Also, a Programme Officer at CCSI, Adenike Ayodele said Social Behaviour Change takes time for an individual to change because in the process one is trying to dispel long entrenched myths.
But, she pointed out that, at the core of the change is the media as a very important tool to amplify the voices and that is why CCSI partner with the media and get them to buy into the process.
However, some experts have argued that the SBC does exactly what the mainstream and recently the online media are doing thereby rendering the argument of the SBC rather invalid.
But Oluseyi Akintola, a Technical Advisor who has a media background and has used the SBC process for over 10 years has a different opinion. He pointed out that: “All our efforts in SBC is geared towards changing lives for the better. There is SBC in the media but with us, there is a methodology to it. And unless you follow that process, how can you be sure that you actually have behavior change?”
For Fagbemi, she believes the government must do more and be deliberate about the way it uses information in all its campaigns because of the barriers that prevent people from changing.
One of the efforts of government to change people’s perceptions is the “Change Begins with Me” campaign which seems to have not lived up to expectation in resonating with the intended audience.
She explained: “Social and Behaviour Change interventions address the barriers that prevent the audience from changing behavior. It is interesting to note that often times, these barriers are not technical or academic. They stem from social norms and our way of thinking and way of life that has been passed down or inherited over the years.”
The Executive Director said SBC is effective in changing the perception the audience has about an issue or cause and can positively influence the way the audience thinks. “This way, positive attitudes and perceptions can be promoted. When evidence drives the SBC campaigns, that is wearing the lens of and empathizing with the audience, it is possible to develop strategies that can eliminate those barriers and improve their motivation to change their behavior,” she said.
On the whole, she also believed that the government can partner with civil societies and tap from their knowledge base to increase citizen’s participation in the electoral process through the active participation of the media.
“When citizens have the correct information, the right attitudes, have support to take action, feel they can take the action and will yield good results and see how they can benefit by exercising their voter rights and playing their part for a successful electoral process, they are more likely to do what is expected,” Fagbemi concluded.
And all these needed the crucial cooperation of the media to propagate the ideals. (Daily Trust)