GyaanDaan – Workshop on Behaviour Change Interventions

We value the giving of knowledge and experience sharing as one of the important aspects to create an impact”

Every year from 2 – 8 October MASH Project Foundation celebrates the “Joy of Giving Week” known as Daan Utsav. #DaanUtsav is a festival of giving during which people come together and perform acts of kindness by giving their time, material, or money in interesting ways to any cause(s) of their choice. As a part of this festival every year MASH Project Foundation organizes a Gyaan Daan session where we welcome young change makers and leading experts to share their impactful stories and one-on-one interactive sessions with the audience.

This year, to mark the week of #DaanUtsav, MASH Project Foundation invited Changemaker Rai Sengupta to share about her journey to Oxford University and to throw some light on the topic of Behaviour Change Interventions 

Ms. Rai Sengupta, Expert of the Event

She is currently pursuing an M.Sc degree in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the University of Oxford. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Weidenfeld Hoffmann Scholarship, which is granted to only 35 scholars globally, in a bid to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow. 

The session was moderated by Mr. Aashish Beergi, Co-founder and CEO of MASH.

Rai started by sharing her experience at Oxford University. She shared how her journey had been tremendous with Oxford. She shared how she learnt the value of intercultural experience by sharing food, culture and knowing each other.

Rai also told everyone about the beauty of the city and how it is  a great place to study.

Moving forward Rai talked about Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) and how it is helpful in various interventions. BCC is a process that encourages people to acquire and sustain healthy behaviors and lifestyles. Bolstering healthy behavior usually requires a prolonged interest in BCC as part of a comprehensive health program to develop communication blueprints to promote favorable behaviors which are reasonable to their settings and thereby solving the world’s most pressing issues.

Co-founder and CEO of MASH Mr. Aashish Beergi in conversation with Ms. Rai Sengupta

Adding on to it, The session started with some really interesting interactions with the audience. Rai let the participants of the session think about some really serious issues we still face in our society. 

One of which was:

  1. Programs by the government on toilet’s construction in rural areas & a large part of our population still continue to practice open defecation .What could be some of the reasons behind the non-usage of the toilets constructed?

Possible answers:

1. Lack of awareness on how to use a toilet

2. Low awareness of the potenåial health and economic benefits of better sanitation

3. Perception of high costs in maintaining a household toilet

4. Perceived convenience of open defecation

5. Socio-cultural acceptance

2. The second such thought provoking discussion was about Malnutrition. Why are mothers and children affected more?

Some of the possible reasons that came out from the discussion with the audience were:

  • Early marriage and pregnancies -before their bodies are ready for childbearing
  • Taboos and stigmas diminish maternal nutrition in an attempt to ease the delivery
  • Lack of awareness that undernourished mothers produce undernourished babies – the intergenerational cycle
  • Feeding Practices (IYCF) during the first 1000 days
  • Sustained under-nutrition stemming from women and children eating last in poor households due to various social reasons.

These situations helped the audience to look into the root cause of these problems, which is generally neglected. 

After the brainstorming activity, Rai explained Behaviour Change Communication with the help of two case studies. A comparison was made to understand the various flaws and nuances of Behavior Change Communication.

Some key topics that were covered in this were:

“Maternal and Child Cash Transfer (MCCT) Programme ” in Chin and Rakhine States of Myanmar. 

It focused on the chronic malnutrition in Myanmar and the interventions taken up by the government to control the situation of malnutrition. 

Convergence of the ICDS and the NHM”

In the second case study, Rai talked about  The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), which is one of the Government of India’s flagship schemes for early childhood care and development, a package service to children in the age group of 0-6 years , pregnant women and lactating mothers (includes supplementary, health check-up and etc.) 

She mentioned Participatory Learning Activities (PLAs) as one of the core components of such schemes. 

Why, PLA meetings ?

The PLA meetings conducted by the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) are innovative and consultative platforms to identify, understand, and address common health problems of the community. The approach uses ‘games’ as methods to convey messages for better learning and easier understanding. 

However ,these case studies cleared many aspects about policies by the government and their conduct towards common people.

Key Takeaway

Maternal and child malnutrition are rooted in deep-seated social norms. Addressing under-nutrition is about ensuring availability, affordability, awareness as well as access to food. BCC seeks to address the root cause of the problem – the ingrained behavior. Sending specific messaging to all stakeholders is key to ensuring results and tackling behaviours and norms for sustained improvements. The term ‘behaviour change’ raises the question of whose behaviour we are trying to influence.

It was a very stimulating session. We thank Rai Sengupta for being a wonderful speaker and bringing our audience such great insights and knowledge from her experiences. It indeed turned out to be a ‘GYAAN PRATIDAAN’ (Knowledge Exchange) for everyone. 

We at MASH really look forward to many more such events where we get to invite talented changemakers like Rai  and get to learn from their experiences and reflections. 

To watch at recording of the event:

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