Through the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3), the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) evaluated the capacity strengthening process conducted through the training of trainers and subsequent district-level trainings and campaigns, in order to understand its impact on the creation of sustainable capacity in strategic communication. CCP conducted in-depth interviews with Primary Health Care Institute (PHCI) master trainers, analyzed district campaign plans for evidence that teams followed strategic planning and implementation guidelines, conducted group interviews with district implementation teams, and assessed health service statistics from one year before to one year after the campaigns to look for evidence of impact.
The results of the evaluation suggested that participants found Leadership in Strategic Health Communication Workshop (LSHC) content valuable and important for developing behavior change communication campaigns at the local level. The systematic development process the groups went through uncovered previous gaps and improved outputs, and the teams reported that the experience was empowering. The evaluation also uncovered important gaps. For example, implementation teams suffered from a lack of district-level health behavior statistics, felt they needed more input from actual community members, and needed more community level data and formative research. PHCI and others reported that PHCI had become a strong social and behavior change communication (SBCC) resource for Tanzania, with greatly strengthened mentoring and training skills.
The implemented campaigns themselves were found to include more strategic elements than previously conducted district-level campaigns (e.g. peer education, entertainment education, complementary community mobilization and mass media, impact monitoring, etc.). Four of six mentored districts documented improvements in health service utilization and outputs correlated with periods of campaign activities.
The Tanzania Capacity and Communication Project (TCCP) designed this capacity strengthening model with sustainability in mind. By training and coaching Tanzanians to own and implement the LSHC approach, TCCP hoped that capacity would be more easily sustained within the country. The evaluation of this initiative showed that building sustainable capacity at scale is possible, but it requires a financial investment and strategy over time. The “learning by doing” and timely mentoring approach was found to be effective, and having committed local partners such as PHCI is a great asset to sustained SBCC capacity.