Kate Holt/Jhpiego

Social and Behavior Change Communication

Beyond simply delivering a message, Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) is the systematic application of theory-based, research-driven communication strategies to address individual level change and change within broader environmental and structural levels. As USAID’s flagship global program in maternal, newborn and child health, MCSP has the opportunity to reach women and their families throughout Asia and Africa with contextualized SBCC approaches at both facility and community levels.

Across our priority countries, our SBCC work focuses on three major objectives:

1. Implement strategic, evidence-based SBCC activities at the country level

We are strengthening national community health worker systems and mobilizing communities to address structural and cultural barriers. MCSP efforts also address provider behavior and improve the quality of client-health provider interactions, while bolstering linkages between communities and health facilities. Through use of the community action cycle, group-based dialogue and learning approaches, information and communication technologies, quality improvement approaches, and engagement of community champions, we are improving quality of care and cultivating an enabling environment for optimal practices and use of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) services and gender equity initiatives.

2. Contribute to the evidence base at country and global levels

MCSP works to advance global learning on evidence-based approaches for promoting RMNCH SBCC. For example, a study in Tanzania is exploring sociocultural and environmental cues to birth spacing and optimal nutritional behaviors. It will test the use of innovative communication approaches for influencing nutrition and family planning perceptions and practices among women, their family members, village leaders, and health providers.

3. Collaborate and coordinate with SBCC partners globally and at the partner level

Finally, MCSP works closely with SBCC partners and leverages the expertise of bilateral and global awards focused on SBCC.

To download MCSP’s SBCC sheet, click here.

Key Results


  • MCSP works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to build, report and assess the evidence base for key maternal, newborn and child health social and behavioral science interventions, and to outline implementation principles for Social, Behavioral, and Community Engagement (SBCE) interventions. In November 2016, MCSP presented its work to-date at the WHO Expert Consultation on the Evidence Gap Map of SBCE Interventions for RMNCAH.  Draft Implementation Principles were developed based on a rapid review and analysis of published literature and grey literature across all RMNCAH areas and intervention categories, ensuring representation of work produced in the Global South.
  • The 2016 SBCC Summit in Addis Ababa presented an opportunity for MCSP staff to share MCHIP and MCSP work in SBCC. The Summit allowed for information sharing to promote use of state-of-the-art and emerging evidence, tools and approaches, and to facilitate interagency collaboration to advance SBCC efforts across MCSP programming.
  • MCSP served on the advisory committee for the Communication & Community Engagement for Routine Immunization forum organized by UNICEF. The objectives of the meeting were to explore challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned in implementing demand-generation activities for immunization services; build on existing approaches and tools to enable countries to deliver results through communication and community engagement; and identify or enhance key performance indicators and tools for M&E of demand generation for immunization. The forum led to the development of a framework that can serve as a common basis for action and investment by various partners who support SBCC work for routine immunization.
  • The Program is developing interpersonal counseling approaches and engaging community support groups to improve understanding of optimal infant and young child feeding (IYCF) and prevention of maternal anemia, and to increase uptake of nutrition practices and interventions, such as exclusive breastfeeding, optimal complementary feeding, and maternal iron-folic acid supplementation. In Kenya, collaboration with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF led to the finalization of the Baby Friendly Community Initiative Implementation Guidelines, BFCI M&E tools, and the IYCF counseling package, which aid in guiding implementation of BFCI. In Malawi, similar collaboration enabled an update to the WHO BFHI 20-hour course and existing behavior change communication materials, such as BFHI job aids and tools, to include the latest guidance on nutrition and HIV in partnership with BFHI master trainers.
  • The Program completed the formative research phase of the study “Using SBCC to improve understanding and adoption of optimal nutrition and postpartum family planning practices in Lake Zone, Tanzania.” Findings have contributed to the knowledge base on current practices, barriers, and facilitators for optimal nutrition and family planning practices in the region. Findings are informing the development of a strategic approach for re-envisioning and revitalizing the promotion of the Lactational Amenorrhea Method as a contraceptive option within the context of integrated nutrition and family planning programming.
Maternal Child Survival Program
Maternal and Child Survival Program