Counting on communication : the Uganda Nutrition and Early Childhood Development Project
This publication presents the activities and lessons learned from a project which sought to halve malnutrition among preschool children, raise primary school enrollment, reduce dropout and repetition rates, improve psycho-social and cognitive development, and increase the number of mothers practicing appropriate childcare. A strategic communication programme was designed to help mothers and other caregivers adopt new behaviours needed to achieve project outcomes. It helped the project team identify necessary changes in behaviour, knowledge or attitude for all target audiences; frame project-related issues relevant to different stakeholders, such as parliamentarians, mothers, community leaders, educators, and local government administrators; craft persuasive messages according to their needs, concerns and perceptions; and use the most appropriate communication channels. The communication strategy included a: national advocacy effort aimed at parliamentarians, health and education ministry officials, district and community leaders; multi-media campaign that emphasized three behaviour change interventions; training programme for health workers and pre-school teachers on their role; and monitoring and evaluation component to ensure that materials were disseminated via cost-effective channels of communication and that messages reached target audiences. Lessons learned emphasize the value of developing a comprehensive communication strategy during project design.