Welcome to Vol.2 of 'Behaviour Change Matters’ - Highlights from India C4D team. A National Tribal RCCE campaign was launched this month to support tribal communities’ uptake of COVID-19 vaccination and COVID appropriate behavioursWalso bring to you stories from districts in Odisha and Maharashtra and resources by staff and partners.

 Something new we have – is  introducing a C4D staff with a story to share!

Sid Shrestha 
Chief - C4D, UNICEF India 
30 JULY 2021
Volunteers play awareness songs and messages to motivate people to get vaccinated, Kalahandi, July 2021. Picture courtesy: ANTODAYA

A new nationwide campaign aims to reach 5 million people from tribal communities with COVID-19 vaccination. Launched on 15 July 2021 by the Tribal Co-operative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) in partnership with UNICEF and WHO, the campaign aims to address myths and misinformation related to COVID-19 vaccination among tribal communities. Some of the common misconceptions include that the vaccine is fatal; tribal communities have a higher immunity and hence do not require vaccination. 

There are over 700 Scheduled Tribes (STs) in India spread over 17 States and 1 Union Territory. Poor geographical access is one of the key challenges in reaching tribal communities. Also, there is poor access to mass media. In the eastern state of Odisha, where nearly 23% population is ST, NGOs such as Antodaya and South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA) are playing a crucial role in reaching hard-to-reach communities with vital information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

In Rayagada district, 43 Dongria Kandha families living in a hill-top village were reluctant to vaccinate because of rumors they heard at the weekly market that takes place about 8km from their village that the COVID-19 vaccine causes death. There is also a myth among them that their immunity is high and they are not at risk even though COVID-19 has already reached these isolated villages. 

Ramprasada of South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA), a UNICEF partner organization, says “It is important to speak to the community in their language. They don’t read or write so pictorial materials are used.” A joint effort was made with livelihood and development workers who are from the same village. SOVA gave the information, the workers translated it and communicated it to the community in their language.

The project staff showed photos of themselves getting vaccinated as evidence that it is not true that vaccination causes death. This helped address unfounded fears. To reach women, a mothers’ meeting was held where SOVA staff and community workers made home visits to explain benefits of the vaccine to women. This has resulted in over 80% of 124 eligible community members of this village being vaccinated.

In Malkanagiri district in the village of Orapadar which is cut off from the mainland as it is inside a reservoir, volunteers supported by UNICEF have visited the village on boats and went house to house ensuring the community has accurate information regarding the vaccine. More than 200 people were mobilized, of which over a hundred were vaccinated.

In Kalahandi district, roads are poor and the terrain is hilly. There are villages inside forest areas and some are islands in the Indravati reservoir. Dillip Kumar Das, chairman of NGO Antodaya, says COVID-19 has had a huge impact on tribal and marginalized communities who depend mainly on daily wage earning and minor forest produce for livelihood. When vaccination for COVID-19 started in the area, there was high resistance. NGO volunteers used microphones, sound speakers to play awareness songs, messages to motivate people to get vaccinated.

Access to services remains a challenge in reaching remote tribal groups. Resistance to behaviour change due to strongly embedded cultural practices is high. NGOs working in Odisha say joining hands with people the community has trust in and who can communicate in their language is crucial in ensuring accurate information is reached.

The campaign launched this month to promote COVID-19 vaccines among tribal communities will leverage the strength and network of Self Help Groups, and common touch points such as Common Service Centres, fertilizers outlet centres, Haats and Bazaars to promote vaccine uptake and COVID Appropriate Behaviour. It will use wall paintings with tribal motifs and involve traditional leaders and faith-based healers to promote adoption of COVID-19 vaccines.
   Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda launching the campaign virtually, July 2021. Picture courtesy: PIB

Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda launched the nationwide campaign 'COVID Teeka Sang Surakshit Van, Dhan aur Uddyam'  on 15 July 2021. The campaign aims to accelerate the pace of COVID-19 vaccination among tribals in India. It will leverage the 45,000 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVK) of the Tribal Co-operative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), a national level cooperative body under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India.

To read more from the press release by PIB Delhi and download presentation on the campaign see here.

Posters from the newly launched campaign urge uptake of COVID-19 vaccine, July 2021
A community health worker (right) counsels a mother during a home visit, Gadchiroli, July 2021. Picture courtesy: Amhi Amchya Arogyasathi 
Gadchiroli district has one of the largest tribal populations in the state. It has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates. Challenges in delivering health services in hard-to-reach areas include poor access due to dense forests, lack of transportation, and language barriers with the tribal community. To address such barriers, UNICEF and the local authorities have set up ‘Ghadchiroli dialogue’, a community engagement platform to strengthen uptake of public service, especially health and water and sanitation, and build ownership of the community stakeholders. Involvement of tribal leaders and influencers and active engagement with adolescents to address misconceptions related to COVID-19 vaccination were some of the strategies used. Capacity building of frontline workers has helped them counsel families through one-to-one dialogue. This has helped raise awareness in the community on COVID Appropriate Behaviour and demand for COVID-19 vaccination
THE TARANG SBCC CAPACITY BUIDLING HUB was started in 2016 by New Concept Centre for Development Communication with UNICEF support. Over the years it has offered courses and trainings on SBCC, hosted webinars, done surveys and research studies on SBCC related issues.
TRAINING COURSES: UNICEF in partnership with New Concept Centre for Development Communication (NCCDC) has developed online SBCC certificate courses. The e-learning courses cater to the needs of development sector practitioners and address behavior change in various development issues. Currently three courses are available:
  • Foundation Course on SBCC (Hindi/English)
  • Social Inclusion in SBCC (Hindi/English)
  • Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment for SBCC: Make a Difference (English)
Register here. For more information please write to To get latest updates, follow @tarangsbcc on Twitter.
SBCC ALLIANCE: Follow updates from the SBCC Alliance on Twitter and Facebook @SBCCalliance

Dancer and linguist Veena shares her experience of taking a year off 

Towards the end of 2018, Veena decided to take a year off from work. By then she had worked for eight years with UNICEF in Assam. “It felt like I was working on auto pilot. I was lonely being away from family,” she recounts. Veena decided she needed a break to spend time with family, reconnect with her own self, and gain new skills. Her supervisors and mentors were extremely supportive. Veena's husband, who is an Army officer, was posted in Delhi at that time, so she spent the year in Delhi. “I learnt Spanish, I am now at B2 level. I restarted my practice of classical dance Kathak, and also my regular practice of yoga. It is not possible to pursue these  interests in a full-time job because one needs to be consistent,” Veena says. She also learnt playing the Ukulele, a Hawaiian string instrument! "I would recommend taking time off to everyone," she says. Other than Hindi and English, Veena also knows Bhojpuri and Assamese, and is now picking up Bangla. This makes her quite a linguist.

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

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