Due to certain development indicators, Malda district is among the priority districts of West Bengal. For example, it is included within the group of Call to Action (C2A) \or RMNCH+A, it is intensely implementing Mission Nirmal Bangla (MNB) to achieve open defecation free (ODF) status, it has innovative interventions to enhance school attendance and prevention of early marriage. Rashtrya Kishori Swasthay Karyakaram (RKSK), SABLA, Building as Learning Aid (BALA), Lok Prasar Prakalpo (LPP), Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation Programme (WIFS), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and will be starting few more. IEC/BCC is integrated part of each aforesaid programme implementations which needs appropriate planning and monitoring. These programmes and schemes intend to accelerate results for the survival, development and empowerment of children, women and adolescents, especially those belonging to marginalised and hard-to-reach communities in respect of integrated development of the district.
Based on the evidences within Malda as well as from outside clearly show that most of indicators related to child and women highlighted above which have also been included in the Malda DPAC heavily depends on behaviours and social norms and practices. Many of those behaviours such as open defecation, low knowledge and practice of hand washing with soap at critical times, poor health seeking behaviours, low knowledge about the importance of education and harmful consequences of early marriage, etc. are among the root causes of poor development indicators. Therefore, all the current interventions under various flagship programmes lay huge emphasis on behaviour change and social norms development in order to accelerate the results of those programmes and campaigns. For example, MNB ( Mission Nirmal Bangla Communication Strategy, Kannyashree Parkalpa Communication Strategy, RMNCH+A Communication, IYCN/ 1000 Day Communication, Mission Indradhanush, etc. have been developed and rolled out in order to meet the increasing need of behaviour changes and social norms to achieve the goal.
These programmes have the provisions for IEC/SBCC which are very important to develop knowledge among their targeted stakeholders about the benefits of the programmes and mobilize them to take the assistance from these programmes for their up liftments. Behaviour change is critical for training and sensitization of the service providers of the schemes. Budget provisions have been made for IEC, and some programmes even have laid down guidelines for IEC/SBCC implementation.
It has been observed that often the provisions of IEC/SBCC in such important programmes remain underutilised and the planning for them is ad hoc rather than systematic and evidence based which affects the awareness generation and also behaviour and social norms development among both beneficiaries and service providers. Consequently, the visibility of several important development programmes and the progress in achieving their results remain much lower than the expectations. Malda is also one of the priority districts for UNICEF’s support and with support from UNICEF, the district has developed the district specific District Plan of Action for Children (DPAC) 2014-2018.