It’s hard to believe it but it’s been actually a month since our program staff set off for Bali, Indonesia for the 2018 Social and Behavioral Change Communication Summit. It was, in a sense, a rebirth for ARDA, 20 years after we started working in this field as it was the first place we debuted our new logo, colours, and updated mission and vision and reintroduced ourselves to the world.
Although we had new branding, we still had over 20 years of knowhow, expertise and experience to show at the summit. We made six presentations, showing our various projects and research that we had done over the years- 4 were poster presentations where we stood by posters that explained brief facts about some of our previous projects and productions. We also had an oral presentation in a panel that looked at mobile technology and SBCC. There, we discussed our TY Danjuma Foundation-funded project “Community Health Matters” where we used mobile tech to build and increase the capacity of Community Health Extension Workers and positively change client attitudes towards health workers in four communities in Taraba State.
On the last day, we conducted a skills-building workshop where we showed participants how how to facilitate community-based storytelling sessions and use community-generated stories as a tool for learning and development.
In addition to the presentations, we had a quite popular exhibition booth where people could come and interact with us and learn more about ARDA and what we do. We made hand-held signs with affirming messages on them and visitors could hold them up and take pictures. It was one of the more popular things to do in the exhibition area. “Each person picked the signs that best described them and struck the best poses ever,” Program Officer Ajemina Ogan said.
The SBCC summit is the largest in our field and gave us the opportunity to meet and interact with over 1200 other SBCC practitioners, researchers and policymakers; to see what new innovations and research are happening in the field and of course share ARDAs own knowledge and methods with a global audience.
It was really good to key into the energy at the summit. Each day buzzed with the exchange of ideas, sharing lessons learned and meeting new people and we learned a lot and took away a lot from the summit, particularly our program staff. “I had a good time meeting people from different countries and organisations and learning about the work they had done over the years and how they went about it,” Priscilla Fiberesima, a program officer at ARDA said.
“I learned Community participation in every intervention as a major key to project sustainability,” Ayotunde Akisanya said. He also said that he learned that it was very essential for messages to cater to the head as well as the heart. “It’s not enough for them to just have knowledge, we must also cause them to empathetic about the message passed across,” he continued.
One of the best things about the summit was seeing all the new innovations and creative ideas from all over the world. “I loved learning about the new forms of technology in achieving sustainable behavior change,” Ms. Fiberesima said.
This view was echoed by Ms. Ogan, who said that “the innovative interventions being designed by people and organisations have inspired me to keep pushing the envelope and keep thinking big.”
Despite the busy schedule and all the good sessions, our crew still managed to take in the beautiful surroundings of Bali. “The people were cheerful and I really loved how the island had so many gorgeous flowers and the city was really beautiful and heavenly,” Ms. Fiberesima said.
Ms. Ogan summed it up, “It was really refreshing and inspiring to be here with people all over the world, all of us coming together to passionately discuss ways to solve social issues and improve the lives of people; and it certainly didn’t hurt that the summit took place in Bali, it’s honestly one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen.”