Welcome to Vol.3 of 'Behaviour Change Matters’. In this issue, we share info on our puppet series Tara Hai Tayaar that recently won aaward for innovation, interesting findings of a recent KAP study on COVID-19 and how our community radio partner is helping school children follow their lessons. Our staff corner has Abhishek Singh, whose passion is travel and adventures.

Sid Shrestha 
Chief - C4D, UNICEF India 
16 AUGUST 2021
      The series’ protagonist is a 7-year-old girl who lives with her father. © UNICEF 2020

UNICEF India wins prestigious award for social innovation and puppetry

Tara Hai Tayyar, a COVID-19 awareness puppet show for children produced by UNICEF’s team in the state of Uttar Pradesh has won the mBillionth[1] award under the  Innovation category. The 10-episode series uses storytelling to disseminate information around COVID-19 and bust myths in a friendly and engaging manner.

Tara Hai Tayyar series was conceptualized to engage through puppets on COVID- behavioral and social issues. The series’ protagonist is a 7-year-old girl who lives with her father. She is worried over COVID-19, feels sad for not going to school, and misses her friends. She enjoys talking to her grandfather via video call and struggles to pronounce ‘social distancing’. The episodes of 5-6 minutes each deal with COVID-19 transmission and prevention. Importance of handwashing, what is social distancing, why mask use is important are some of the issues covered. The storytelling addresses issues children would likely be anxious about during a lockdown such as keeping a routine, how to keep in touch with friends and family, and also preventing stigma and discrimination during the pandemic.

The series was developed in partnership with The Puppetarians, a Mumbai-based creative agency known for edutainment videos for children using puppets. With sign language, the series has been adapted for children with special needs. Bhai Shelly, C4D Specialist of Uttar Pradesh, says at the beginning of the outbreak in India, he chanced upon a puppet show developed by them while browsing social media. “In the show, Tara was doing a quiz on Corona. It interested me a lot and made the connection. In a brief chat we agreed to rope in puppet characters and Tara Hai Tayyar came into being. As we shared the first episode, colleagues thought to incorporate sign language for children with hearing disabilities. It was an instant yes and that is how we were able to adapt it for children with special needs.” 

While the primary target audience for the series is children, parents and teachers appreciate it too. It is estimated the show was viewed by over 650,000 people through media partnerships. The series has been disseminated widely at the district and village level through community platforms and through youth in other states who have adapted it into multiple formats.
[1] The annual mBillionth Mobile Award by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and World Summit Award (WSA) recognizes social and mobile innovation for meaningful content and services for the underserved communities in India. At the awards presentation ceremony, it was noted that, “Tara Hai Tayyar was adjudged best entry because it harnesses the power of traditional puppetry and storytelling for a contemporary topic like the COVID-19 pandemic”. 
Community volunteers and ASHA Worker make a door-to-door vist to create awareness on Covid-19 vaccination in Narsingh Runda, Jhabua. Sujay Reddy/UNICEF India/ 2021

It is crucial that communication strategies are evidence-based, especially in a rapidly changing pandemic scenario. There is need to constantly examine fundamental questions: Are we doing the right things? Are we making a difference? Are we doing things right? What are we learning? In order to understand attitudes towards COVID-19 safe practices and vaccine hesitancy it has been important to keep an ear to the ground. A Community Rapid Assessment by Ipsos Research was designed and undertaken in five states of India.

Key findings

There is high trust in the information provided by the Government and its efforts in scaling-up vaccination efforts. Mass media, especially TV, remains the top trusted source of information. The content of messages need to be dynamic. Government, friends and family are trusted, and need to be engaged. Community platforms – frontline workers such as ASHA, Anganwadi worker and ANM, women’s self-help group members and members of the Panchayati Raj Institution, or elected representatives in rural areas – are trusted and have the confidence to lead action.

Practicing social distance presents a glaring low. Individual risk perception is low: Only 15% of general population in Andhra Pradesh and 17% in Odisha think that it is likely for them to get infected with COVID-19. There is low awareness on steps to follow if there are COVID-19 symptoms. There is a positive intent to take the COVID-19 vaccine and follow preventive measures even after taking it.

The general population was asked about their perception of how the community was following COVID-19 protective measures. In their response, they were asked to consider one week preceding the survey.
  • On mask use: 41.1% said a small number follow mask use; 27.5% said no one follows mask use.
  • On avoiding social gatherings and public events: 12.4% said a small number follow this practice; 16.1% said no one follows this practice.
  • On maintaining a distance of at least 2m: 27.8% said a small number follow this practice; 8.5% said no one follows this practice.
Respondents across groups were asked on the safety measures they follow to protect themselves from COVID-19. Community platforms fared much better than general population. This is reassuring to know since a substantive investment has been made with these groups.
  • On regular handwashing/ hand sanitising several times a day 95% frontline workers (FLW) said yes vs 84% general population (GP).
  • On wearing face mask in public when near others 81% SHG members said yes vs 67% GP.
  • On staying at least 2m away from others when out in public, 57% PRI members said yes vs 38% GP.
FLWs, PRI members, and members of self-help groups who received trainings better adopted safety measures. In addition, they were found to have high confidence to explain COVID-19 protection measures and symptoms to those in their community, lead response, and convince people in their community to take COVID-19 vaccine. Asked about their confidence in communicating COVID-19 related messages in the community, 84% FLWs, 83% PRI members and 84% SHG members said they were ‘extremely confident’. This is important as confidence reflects they have the ability, knowledge, and understanding to respond to counter questions. Women PRI members age 25-34 fared best. Of those who stated ‘very confident’ among PRI members, 67.1% were women and majority of these were in the 25-34 age group. This points to a potential for greater investment in young women PRI members.


The findings recommend utilizing most trusted sources of information such as Government institutions, mass media, social media, print media, community groups etc. for dissemination of correct information both on the pandemic and vaccine. A need was seen to share the information regularly about the evolving pandemic situation in the state. There is need to promote all three key aspects of COVID Appropriate Behaviours, more emphasis is needed on ‘social distancing’ and ‘avoiding social gatherings’. Adopting COVID behavior should be communicated as an integral part of day-to-day life. Protocols to be followed when having COVID symptoms presented a gap even among FLWs, PRI members and SHG members. This needs strengthening and a strong communication drive.
Adolescent girls listening to Radio Brahmaputra’s school classes, Dibrurgarh, Assam, August 2021. Picture courtesy: Radio Brahmaputra

Basanti Hajong, a seventh grade student from Assam state in North-East India listens to radio with great attention, writing down notes as her teacher’s voice crackles from a radio set airing classes from UNICEF supported Radio Brahmaputra. In the radio program launched to address schools closure resulted by COVID-19, students like Basanti take part in quizzes session and interact with the teacher whom the radio makes a phone call to.

Radio Brahmaputra, a prominent community radio station in North-East has played an innovative role in the COVID-19 pandemic. By offering classes to schoolchildren via radio, it is helping children living in tea gardens and remote villages to catch up on lessons missed.

Radio station manager Bhaskar Bhuyan says ‘’With UNICEF’s support and the Education Department, we started this program for children primarily from the tea garden community as many of them do not have smartphones, while power supply in the district remains erratic."

With school closure due to the pandemic, many children have dropped out of school. In a statement issued in March 2020, UNICEF noted ‘’Online education is not an option for all as only one in four children has access to digital devices and Internet connectivity. Pre-Covid, only a quarter of households (24 per cent) in India had access to the Internet and there is a large rural-urban and gender divide”.

In October 2020 Radio Brahmaputra started radio classes in collaboration with district administration and Department of Education. The initiative helped reach 1,500 students between the 5th and 8th grade. Community volunteers help gather students to listen to the school programme every morning and help them do their lessons. Students gather in community halls or in open spaces under trees following COVID-19 protocol.

For those who are unable to attend the live programme, volunteers help with recorded videos available on social media platform of Radio Brahmaputra. Classes were also aired through Facebook Live. Junmoni Kheriya, 15, says she had to discontinue studies as there was no smartphone to follow online classes. She lives on a tea estate in Dibrugarh and now works in a paddy field. She says “Thanks to the radio classes that have now helped me catch up on the school curriculum”.

New Report by USAID and GAIN focuses on how SBCC entertainment media can be used for behaviour change. Key ideas include:
Human Connection is an essential component of successful media-based interventions and should form the backbone of the process.
Storytelling works and should be used to help motivate behavior change, particularly for a topic that ties in deeply with attitudes, values, and mores of a culture, such as food. 
Distribution is key and should be considered at the beginning of the process, not at the end.


New IEC materials for COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women have been added. These include posters, guideline for healthworkers and counselling note for frontline workers. 
SBCC DHAARA WEBINAR Reimagining Education: Expanding learning to reach children in the last mile, July 2021
Terry Durnnian, Chief-Education, UNICEF India, gave the opening remarks. Shubhra Chatterjee, Director, Vikramshila,  Dr Kailash Brijwasi, Director, Jatan Sansthan and R. Venkat Reddy, National Convener, M.V. Foundation, shared the challenges and experiences for continued learning. Sunisha Ahuja, Begur Ramachandra Rao and Alka Malhotra of UNICEF India presented key evidence and emerging issues.
Key takeaways include:
  • As schools are closed, parents/children often do not know where to reach out for learning. All those working in SBCC can contribute to make that connect with the teacher by making the teacher’s contact available or providing the links. Make the connect happen.
  • Reach of technology is limited as also its use. Getting parents to know about technology and its usage is important.
  • Print material is important for learning. The government has made all efforts to send textbooks to students’ homes, and worksheets have also been provided.
SBCC ALLIANCE: Follow updates from the SBCC Alliance on Twitter and  Facebook 

Tech enthusiast with a drive for travel adventures.

Before arriving in Raipur in January 2019, Abhishek had worked in the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. His sense of mobility stems from his love of road travel. A keen road traveller, Abhishek has driven across most of north, east and west India through states such as Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Odisha. Ladakh is on the bucket list. He drives a SUV and most road journeys are family trips with his wife and daughter who is now 10 years old. He sees road travel as precious family time: “When I am behind the wheel it frees me. I don’t commit myself to a time of arrival. This gives us flexibility to stop as we please and enjoy the journey.” 

The documents disseminated by Behaviour Change Matters
do not necessarily reflect an official position by UNICEF.

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