Monday, 27 May 2013



Even as new advances in science and technology promise new vistas on the horizon of human development and welfare, our ability to apply these advances lags behind, particularly for the benefit of those who need them most. This dilemma and challenge has pre-occupied the international development community for some time. Methods to improve management of centrally planned programs, endeavors to generate critical political will to provide appropriate direction and support to development programs, and efforts to involve communities as decision makers and implementers of their own development have received considerable attention. Communicators, educators and marketers have contributed to efforts that aim at the application of knowledge. Change agents and grassroots organizers have urged the empowerment of those segments of society whose participation and involvement is crucial in the effort toward equity and justice.

There is no escape, however, from the fact that development involves change, and change involves complex interaction among groups in different segments of society who hold different attitudes, values and interests. Changes made within one group affect other groups. Isolated attempts to involve various groups are not enough. There is a need to tackle these complex tasks in a broader strategic framework. Training and applied research in mobilization work for development are necessary.


Social Mobilization, as defined by RAY OF HOPE FOUNDATION, is a broad scale movement to engage people's participation in achieving a specific development goal through self-reliant efforts. It involves all relevant segments of society: decision and policy makers, opinion leaders, bureaucrats and technocrats, professional groups, religious associations, commerce and industry, communities and individuals. It is a planned decentralized process that seeks to facilitate change for development through a range of players engaged in interrelated and complementary efforts. It takes into account the felt needs of the people, embraces the critical principle of community involvement, and seeks to empower individuals and groups for action.

Mobilizing the necessary resources, disseminating information tailored to targeted audiences, generating intersectional support and fostering cross-professional alliances are also part of the process. While the components of the process may be everyday practice in many development programs, they tend to be taken up in isolation of each other. Social mobilization in total aims at a continuum of activities in a broad strategic framework. The process encompasses dialogue and partnership with a wide spectrum of societal elements. At the policy level, the outcomes should be a supportive framework for decision making and resource allocation to empower communities to act at the grassroots level. The outcomes should be people's active involvement ranging from identifying a need to implementation in achieving the development objective and evaluation effort. The solidarity of bureaucrats and technocrats and a broad alliance of partners among various non-governmental groups are equally critical for the attainment of any change-oriented development goal. Simply stated, social mobilization calls for a journey among partners and results in the successful transformation of development goals into societal action.

Though circumstances differ from country to country and often from one part of a country to another, health programs depend upon the collaboration of other sectors. The societal mobilization strategy calls for partnership with all stake holders, which are illustrated in the diagram:


I. Political - policy makers

The extreme left column names some types of policy makers. Advocacy with and among leaders in this group helps foster the commitment that will clear the way for action. The goal here is to build consensus with sound data, to create a knowledgeable and supportive environment for decision-making, including the allocation of adequate resources.

II. Bureaucratic/Technocratic – government workers and technical experts

Policy makers depend on the technocrats, bureaucrats, and service professionals to provide the rationale for decisions as well as to plan and implement programs. This sector includes disparate groups, each with its own agenda, conflicting interests and concerns. Harmonizing the disparate units in this sector is probably one of the greatest challenges in development, because development specialists have hitherto failed to recognize how difficult it is to foster unity among government units and technical groups.

III. Non-governmental sector

This covers a multitude of interests. Non governmental organizations for special purposes, social institutions and associations that represent organized support, religious groups with their ideological bends, commerce and industry that operate on a for-profit basis, and professional groups that exist to advance their interests are here. Though difficult to mobilize, they do not hide their positions. If their stakes are given recognition, they are important partners and allies to mobilize the civil society for various health objectives.

IV. Community Groups

Community leaders, schools, churches, mosques and grassroots groups are critical to get communities involved. They help transform development goals into action. Unfortunately, they are often not given a voice in identifying problems and designing solutions. Popular participation takes place here.

V. Households and Individuals

Individual actions are the ultimate pay-off of the health program. In the household, where such behavioral actions take place, key individuals in traditional society often hold sway. There needs to be deliberate action to inform and educate individuals in the household so that they can make informed choices.


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