Publication Date
February 28, 2017

"The Strategy operates through influential members and decision-makers in homes, the community, and on communication media platforms, establishing bridges of cultural relevance and emphasizing the reasons and benefits of behavior change."

The Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) worked in close collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in Guatemala and 12 USAID-funded health and development partners active in the Western Highlands to develop the brand and social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) strategy described in this report. "Juntos Prosperamos. Nos Atrevemos. Avanzamos." or "Together we prosper. We dare. We advance." is the unifying umbrella platform and brand for the integrated health and development efforts being carried out as part of the Western Highlands Integrated Program (WHIP). The strategy unifies activities across the areas important during the "First 1,000 Days" (from the beginning of a pregnancy through the end of a child's first year) - safe pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding, birth spacing, hygiene, sanitation and baby WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), and home-based agriculture, as well as relevant gender norms. The ultimate goal is to reduce chronic malnutrition and increase hygiene and crops diversification.

To inform the development of the participatory communication strategy for the WHIP. HC3 carried out an multi-component situation analysis at multiple levels, which included: an analysis of communication activities of WHIP projects; an extensive literature review; the execution of rapid landscaping analyses of religious leaders, radio stations, and cell phone technology penetration in the Western Highlands; and a formative research study on family dynamics, future aspirations, and "positive deviants". (See Related Summaries, below). All of these studies point to an existing body of knowledge, beliefs, habits, and gender norms that sustain existing practices in health, nutrition, hygiene, agriculture, food production, and water use, many of which present health risks to babies and their mothers. This system of values and beliefs is reproduced in the home, where the grandmother figures prominently, and in many cases, it is also legitimised by social norms in the community itself, which represents a challenge to an open and informed dialogue in the home and community.

Most health and development efforts in the Western Highlands related to the First 1,000 Days have focused on pregnant women and young mothers: The communication activities currently being carried out by the WHIP implementing partners are directed at young mothers through monthly "nutrition/development classes" and cooking demonstrations, or to the man (husband) in his position as an agricultural leader and member of a producers' association. These activities constitute the foundations and points of convergence for the novel actions and approaches of this new Strategy, which focuses on transforming the home into the "heart of change" by deepening and expanding the involvement of key influencers and decision-makers: mothers-in-law/grandmothers, young fathers, religious and community leaders, and development and health volunteers. Among the other guiding principles: starting with emotions and aspirations as the catalysts of change; recognising Guatemala's multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual nature, with communication that establishes an atmosphere of respect, exchange of knowledge, and valuing different ways of being; strengthening the voice of the community and raising the profile of local solutions through the co-design and co-production of the communication strategy; and integrating a focus on transformational gender fairness. By taking this new approach, the strategy aims to transform social norms and create a support network for the young family that leads to behaviour change and better health outcomes for mothers and babies.

HC3 says that the Juntos Prosperamos platform is unique in that it not only unifies SBCC across multiple health and development areas but also serves as a platform that focuses on emotional triggers such as aspirations, hope, and social and community action to create change. The Strategy proposes 4 levels of action:

  1. Strengthening the home as the "heart of change", where the family, especially the mother-in-law/grandmother and young mother's husband, will play a role in supporting and protecting the mother and baby.
  2. Involving and soliciting a commitment from community leadership (religious leaders, indigenous and community authorities, and civil society networks) to take a leading role in actively supporting young mothers, their babies, and their households, to bring about change.
  3. Empowering and raising the profile of the community facilitator in order to increase their influence and empower them to model change, and catalyse their work for the well-being of their home and community, by demonstrating that empower them to model change is possible and brings real benefits.
  4. Ensuring the participation of and allying with communication media and social networks, opening up new spaces of dialogue to showcase real stories of local change and its main players, the seeds of change - positive deviants, households, and farmer associations - thereby legitimising discourse around development, opportunities, and family well-being.

The Strategy capitalses on pre-existing platforms, networks, and resources that USAID has developed in collaboration with its implementing partners, and fills in gaps identified through by the situation analysis. The core of the strategy is a new interactive radio platform that features engaging radio drama, testimonials, and life stories of those champions and "positive deviants" who have changed their behaviour and experienced the benefits, and a lively interaction between two radio hosts - a grandmother/mother-in-law and a community volunteer. The goal is to promote dialogue and collective action on WHIP issues and make the "spark of change" visible through the voices of the protagonists themselves. The radio programme will feature: clips on life stories of change; entertainment-education vignettes modeling desired behaviours; interviews with community leaders, grandmothers, and project facilitators; announcements of community events of the various WHIP projects, and the promotion of a telephone and text message (SMS) advice line through which the audience can channel its questions and problems.

The content of the radio platform will be aligned with the other platforms included in the strategy - a tablet application and kit of materials for community volunteers and leaders that harmonise SBCC across relevant health and development areas, community dialogues, and discussion clubs for grandmothers and young men. Specifically, in addition to the active participation of WHIP project community facilitators on the radio, a tablet application will be developed to allow the facilitators to enhance their work with discussion groups, home visits, and follow-up visits to demonstration sites. The application will cover a variety of issues and include "correct and creatively presented information..., taking advantage of multimedia formats to facilitate explanation of complex topics to members of the community." At home, the grandmother will be positioned as an active agent of change who participates in the network of support, learning, and collective action to protect the health and growth of her grandchildren and her daughter-in-law. The grandmother will have her own discussion forum - The Grandmother's Club - on the practices of the First 1,000 Days within a framework of a "dialogue of knowledge". The Strategy also proposes to involve men by using spaces that are most frequented by them, such as producer/farmer association meetings, networks of tuk-tuk drivers, informal points of business, barbershops, stores for charging cell phones, internet centres, etc. Short forums for dialogues between men will be organised in these spaces using a guerrilla marketing approach, delivering promotional material and invitations to community activities and radio programmes.

At the community level, the Strategy will promote a network and Dialogue of the Wise between the various bodies that make up the local community leadership, identifying similarities between: 1) behaviours promoted by the WHIP agenda; 2) the values, principles, and wisdom of the Maya worldview; and 3) the teachings of religious doctrines represented in the community. The objective is to arrive at a consensus for an Action Plan that reflects the collective efforts to create the network of support, learning, and collective action for mothers and their babies. This Action Plan will be publicly disclosed in the community (in large print) and signed by the leaders with the support of the entire community; its resolutions will be promoted on the radio. In addition, communication activities with these groups will capitalise on the usual forums and points of congregation of the various leaders (churches, civil society network forums, and community assemblies and meetings), and the Strategy will offer leaders training events on WHIP issues and communication tools for sharing information about these issues with others.

As part of the effort to position the unifying concept of "Together We Prosper. We Dare. We Advance.", the Strategy includes the development of a set of materials to be used for communication and community mobilisation activities in the home, community, media, and social networks. The set of materials will be adapted to the communication activities and audience profiles, culturally relevant, and especially geared towards community facilitators and technicians of the WHIP projects using them in their regular activities.

HC3 proposes an initial implementation phase lasting approximately 6 months that allows for testing and reviewing the communication tools developed, adjusting the processes for rolling them out in the field, and building skills and strengthening actions for coordination and alliance with WHIP implementing partners. The Strategy is and will be strengthened by a continuous learning process based on feedback from WHIP communities and experience gained during the implementation. Through meetings established with USAID, WHIP implementing partner staff, the WHIP implementation Communication Working Group (Grupo de Trabajo de Comunicación, or GTC), the group of WHIP community facilitators, and programme participants in this initial execution phase, the progress and challenges discovered during the implementation will be discussed, and adjustments will be made.

Click here for the 12-page executive summary report in English [PDF].
Click here for the full 112-page strategy report in Spanish [PDF].


"Guatemala SBCC Strategy for First 1,000 Days Targets Influencers Beyond Young Mothers", by Claire Slesinski, February 28 2017 - accessed on March 8 2017.