SBCC in the Sahel

A Landscape Assessment of Nutrition and Hygiene Social and Behavior Change Communication in Niger and Burkina Faso

Woman in a radio station
Courtesy of Development Media International.

In 2013, the USAID Global Health Bureau asked SPRING to collaborate with and provide nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-related social and behavior change communication (SBCC) support to the Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel–Enhanced Resilience (REGIS-ER) project, awarded to a consortium led by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA) International.1 The REGIS-ER project’s goal is to increase the “resilience of chronically vulnerable populations in agro-pastoral and marginal agriculture livelihood zones in Niger and Burkina Faso.”2 The project includes three specific objectives related to: 1) increasing economic wellbeing; 2) strengthening institutions and governance; and 3) improving health and nutrition status.

The collaboration between REGIS-ER and SPRING focuses specifically on Objective 3, for which an array of innovative activities has been proposed by NCBA CLUSA and its partners to: improve public knowledge about health, nutrition, and WASH; link nutrition-led agricultural activities; and change men’s and women’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Objective 3 also focuses on the promotion of rational use of food, dietary diversification, access to new fortified foods, better access to health and nutrition services, and improved water sources and sanitation.


In developing this landscape assessment, SPRING initially conducted a desk review of available published and unpublished reports and other program documents—including peer-reviewed and gray literature—related to nutrition and WASH, with emphasis on SBCC and resilience in Niger and Burkina Faso. Materials included national policies and strategies, previous assessments, project reports, surveys, formative research, and other studies. SPRING subsequently conducted a series of scoping visits to both countries, involving the collection of additional documents and consultations with more than 150 key informants including government officials, USAID and other donor agencies, United Nations (UN) program leaders, implementing partners, and other national and regional entities. See references below for a list of selected publications and documents and Annex 1: Key Stakeholders Consulted. Prior to publication of this landscape assessment, summaries of the information collected, priority documents, and key informant contacts were shared with the REGIS-ER team during the Year 1 work planning meeting in December 2013 in Niamey, Niger, and during subsequent visits.

Summary of Findings

This landscape analysis consolidates existing information about the range of actors (government, donors, and implementing partners), relevant policies and programs, formative research, and a number of approaches, tools, and products currently used to support or develop maternal, infant, and young child nutrition (MIYCN) and hygiene-related SBCC programs in Niger and Burkina Faso. Issues, opportunities, and gaps in programming have been identified, as well as existing platforms on which new programs can potentially build. Based on these findings, specific recommendations to REGIS-ER and other programs (existing and future) are presented.

Despite the diversity of donor and programming support, as well as varying cultural and societal conditions in the REGIS-ER project’s zones of influence, many opportunities and current gaps are common to both countries:

  • Both countries have a large number of existing SBCC print, radio, video, and other materials, many of which require adaptation and updating.
  • A large proportion of these nutrition and WASH-related SBCC efforts and material have focused on raising awareness and sharing information, falling short on their efforts to trigger and/or sustain change in behaviors.
  • New low-cost communication technologies are emerging and should be introduced, studied in the resilience context, and taken to scale if they are proven to be feasible and effective.
  • In this highly vulnerable context, programs need to focus on some critical underlying determinants such as gender roles and cultural norms, which affect livelihoods and income, and the ability of families to improve their nutritional status.
  • Lessons learned and other experiences need to be shared systematically.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Based on background documents that have been collected and reviewed to date, and interviews and discussions with a wide range of key informants, specific MIYCN and hygiene SBCC recommendations related to REGIS-ER and other resilience programming have been identified by SPRING. They include the following:

  • Create a project-wide, overarching multisectoral SBCC strategy that integrates and prioritiozes MIYCN and hygiene behaviors
  • Prioritize MIYCN and hygiene behaviors within a theory-based SBCC framework
  • Promote MIYCN and hygiene behaviors within a broader nutrition-sensitive context
  • Tailor REGIS-ER MIYCN and hygiene SBCC activities to local conditions and facilitate coordination and harmonization of programming within project zones
  • Help shift MIYCN and hygiene SBCC priorities and programming to prevention and resilience
  • Invest in capacity building to better design, implement, manage, monitor and evaluate MIYCN and hygiene SBCC activities

Use the download link at the top of the page to read the rest of the landscape analysis.