• Request support for nutrition coordination, information management and nutrition in emergencies

  • التماس الدعم لتنسيق التغذية وإدارة المعلومات والتغذية في حالات الطوارئ

  • Buscar apoyo para la coordinación de la nutrición, la gestión de la información y la nutrición en situaciones de emergencia

  • Demander un appui pour la coordination de la nutrition, la gestion de l'information et la nutrition dans les situations d'urgence

  • Solicite apoio para coordenação em nutrição, gestão de informação e nutrição em emergências

Publication: 13.05.2021

Social and Behaviour Change for Nutrition in Emergencies: Remote support to IMC Somalia

Can effective support for Social and Behaviour Change be delivered remotely? Is this possible during the COVID-19 pandemic? Will the nutrition programming see an improvement in results? These questions were on the minds of both the International Medical Corps (IMC) team and the GNC Technical Alliance’s Technical Support Team (TST) as they began a collaboration in support of improved nutrition programming in Somalia.

IMC Somalia implements nutrition programming in a country where one in seven children under five is acutely malnourished.  Working across four regions, IMC implements health, water, sanitation and hygiene, gender-based violence, mental health, and psychosocial support programmes. They also include aspects of prevention and promotion across all their projects.  However, through consistent program monitoring, IMC had observed that while knowledge levels surrounding key public health messages were increasing, it had not yet translated into individual behaviour change.

IMC requested support from the GNC Technical Alliance, and Sona Sharma, the Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) Advisor from the TST, was assigned to work with IMC Somalia. Sona’s main task was to support the IMC team in developing an integrated SBC strategy that aimed to enhance nutrition outcomes across all of IMC Somalia’s projects.

Sona’s first step in the strategy development process was leading a desk review, identifying gaps in information around key barriers and stimulus for behaviour change.  Next, Sona facilitated an online training on formative research for SBC with the MEAL Manager, MEAL Coordinator, Sector Leads and Program Manager. Once trained and with Sona being able to support remotely to ensure accurate and attentive methodology, the team conducted qualitative data collection and analysis.

Through follow up meetings in all four regions with key stakeholders and community members, IMC validated their findings and collected additional information on reasons that prevent or enable behaviour change. These findings shaped the foundation for a virtual strategy development workshop which was facilitated by Sona.  Once inputs were collected from all 20 IMC staff who participated in the virtual workshop, Sona supported the drafting of an integrated SBC strategy, including an online feedback session with the IMC team to review the draft.

Ultimately, a comprehensive SBC strategy was developed that can be integrated into new or existing IMC programmes.  The strategy lays out clear steps for all sectors to come together and work towards SBC objectives.  The level of commitment and ownership displayed by the IMC Somalia team, throughout the process, was a major contributor to the success of this activity, and certainly, this level of commitment will boost the success of the SBC strategy roll-out.

There were challenges along the way, including weak and inconsistent internet connections or user’s unfamiliarity with new software and virtual platforms that needed to be solved.  However, there were also many advantages of  Sona providing remote support such as the flexibility to support multiple teams simultaneously, the ability to quickly include new activities based on needs (without significant additional costs) and recording sessions for future use, as well as lower training costs.

The overall positive feedback from the IMC Somalia team and, most importantly, the improvements in nutrition programming, all speak to the success of this remote technical support for SBC.

International Medical Corps (IMC) is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization. IMC was established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses. Its mission is to improve the quality of life through health interventions and related activities that build local capacity in underserved communities worldwide. For more than 30 years, IMC has implemented nutrition programs in emergency contexts. IMC has emerged as a leader in CMAM programming, providing technical support to governments in the integration of treatment of acute malnutrition into health systems, and building capacity and leadership in communities to prevent and manage acute malnutrition. IMC is a partner of the GNC Technical Alliance and a member of the Alliance Leadership Team.