Investigating the use of communication approaches within land governance initiatives across the ILC network in Africa

Will N Barnett, masters student at the University of Sheffield
Viernes, Noviembre 1, 2019

For six weeks in June and July I undertook an internship and placement with the ILC within their Regional Coordination Unit for Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. 

This internship formed the basis of my master’s dissertation research. This study was conducted in collaboration with the ILC to explore the use of a new approach, Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC), being used within land governance initiatives across Africa by member organisations within the network. The study focused on providing a foundational continental insight into its application through the use of four countries as case studies, exploring how it was being used, its effectiveness and its future role within their work.

Over recent years initiatives within the ILC network have started to apply SBCC approaches within their programmes to engage with a range of complex issues within land governance including securing land rights, policy dialogue and women’s land rights. SBCC is an interactive process of intervention widely utilised in the health sector which employs communication tools such as radio, social media, print materials and public presentations to promote and facilitate positive behaviour and social change based on research and theory. Ultimately, SBCC approaches primary focus is to improve the quality of life for individuals through the adoption of safer and more optimal behaviours. This study endeavoured to investigate and explore the emerging use of this approach within land governance.

The research focused on the experiences and perspectives of individuals from ILC member organisations involved explicitly in the running and facilitation of land governance initiatives  using SBCC approaches. Concentrating on the four African countries of Tanzania, Malawi, Togo and Madagascar the research interviewed individuals from key ILC member organisations within each context to form a country-based case study. Suitable participants were identified by members of the ILC Africa team, within each case study a communications and programme management experts were engaged with. This was supported by interviews with a number individuals from the ILC Secretariat and the ILC Africa who gave key broader perspectives helping to develop a foundational continental insight into SBCC use in land governance.

The research revolved around three central questions:

  • How SBCC is being used in land governance initiatives?
  • How effective SBCC is in land governance initiatives?
  • What role will SBCC play within ILC member organisations future work?

The study illustrates the potential scope of SBCC to better land governance. It is important to acknowledge the changes and progressions this study has revealed from the use of SBCC are currently on a relatively small scale and at an early stage but demonstrate the real opportunity SBCC approaches present for initiatives within the sector.

The fundamental premise for this research was to give the ILC greater understanding of a new approach being used within initiatives they support. The study shows that these initiatives are achieving and facilitating important changes within context and communities where practices are notoriously challenging to alter. SBCC was effective within the four case study countries, with it realising a number of positive progressions. This demonstrates that SBCC approaches have a clear value within the sector in changing behaviour and perspectives, that can be advantageous to the progression of land governance within such contexts. SBCC has made key contributions to placing land issues in community and political agendas within the case studies, this is fundamental to overcoming the barriers to effective land governance and further underlines the value of approach to the sector. SBCC has shown to help increase awareness, dialogue and mobilisation which are critical elements in achieving behaviour and social change and align with the contemporary needs of land governance initiatives within Africa.

SBCC looks only to benefit land governance, though it does not provide all the answers to the enduringly complex challenges within the sector, it is critical in an era of growing and pressing land issues to engage with and nurture the relevance of such an approach.


This blog was produced as part of a collaboration between the International Land Coalition (ILC) and the Sheffield Institute for International Development - University of Sheffield, which brings students to work with grassroots networks from ILC membership to research land governance and theorise on it.  In Will's time at ILC, he was supervised by Israel Bionyi, ILC Africa Monitoring and Evaluation, Learning and Communication Coordinator.