Our objective is behaviour change. In recent years, the vast majority of aid money has been spent on improving the 'supply side' (doctors, hospitals, teachers, schools). All of this is absolutely necessary, but in many countries this investment has been at the expense of something equally important: creating demand (empowering communities with knowledge and encouraging positive behaviours). We run media campaigns that give people information, but also convince them to change their behaviours, overcoming the practical and cultural barriers in their way.


Creating knowledge and awareness

Often, the barriers to behaviour change are cognitive. For example, in terms of health, many people cannot recognise when their child has a potentially dangerous illness, or do not know what to do about it, so many deaths are due to lack of knowledge rather than lack of healthcare services. If a mother can recognise that her baby has diarrhoea and is able to provide her child with oral rehydration therapy, then the child is far more likely to reach the age of five.

Similarly, many people do not take their child to see a medical practitioner when he or she has symptoms of a potentially dangerous illness, such as pneumonia or malaria, simply because they are unaware either of the symptoms or of the severity of the disease.

Media campaigns play an important role in providing people with straightforward and easily digestible information about, for example, how to prevent and treat major illnesses affecting children and families, how to improve their cognitive development through play and conversation, and how to improve their productivity and household earnings through more efficient agricultural practices. 


Changing behaviours

However, providing information alone is not enough. To use another health example, most people know that they should wash their hands after defaecation and before meals, but few do so as often as they should. This is even true of developed countries, where access to water and soap is universal. In most developing countries, a majority of the population does not have regular access to sanitation facilities, and people need to be supported to overcome the practical and financial barriers to changing their behaviours.

Cultural and social factors can also prevent people from changing their behaviours. For example, a belief that leprosy is caused by a divine curse rather than by bacteria, and the social stigma that is attached to it as a result, prevents people from coming forward for treatment; we tackled this belief head-on in a television campaign in Nepal.

Our campaigns take these barriers into account and develop innovative ways of helping people to overcome them.

Find out more about how we change behaviours:

- Read about our Saturation+ approach to achieving impact
- Discover how we measure impact
- Watch some of our previous campaigns


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