Author: Mohammad Shafique
PD Facilitator, Behavior Change Communication Specialist
Before entering into a community, try to understand its social, political and cultural context and understand the dynamics of the community very well
Working with community is fun, it’s a great learning opportunity, therefore, take it as a privilege and enjoy this interaction
Always go as learner and learn about their culture, traditions, behaviours and the overall context
Respect culture and values of the community and try to build on these cultural events to disseminate the positive behaviours of the community
Always consider that the community is the expert; they know about their issues, problems, areas and what constitute these issues. Therefore, always engage them as ‘active’ partner to address the problems together
Be inclusive and engage all the segments of the community in the PD process. Avoid any discrimination on the basis of social class, ethnicity, gender or geographical distance. Provide everyone equal opportunities to be part of the project to ensure their ownership
Positive Deviance approach builds the capacity and self-efficacy of the community members so that they could gradually take the lead to solve their issues. Therefore, build their confidence, capacity and skills so that they could take charge and solve their issues without any external help
The PD process takes few weeks to understand the context of the community, therefore, go along-with local leaders, work in the community in a non-threatening way, for example, do not walk through community holding cameras or note books, it makes the community suspicious. Always conduct transact walk empty hand and make the mental notes and when you complete the walk, then sit and take notes.
Respect community’s time and routines and always plan your work when community is available. If you plan your work based on their convenience, they will give you a quality time and you will come up with rich information. But if you go with your convenience, they may want to finish it early or do not give your quality responses.
When you have identified positive deviant individual, make sure, that there is no cultural sensitivity to share their stories using their identify. In case of sensitive topic, always ask their permission to use their identity or names to share their positive behaviours with other community members
Always keep community’s expectation low, do not make false promises or give incentives, it will raise their expectations and they will expect such favours in the future or without incentive they might cease participating
Always wear culturally appropriate dresses and avoid wearing expensive dresses or ornaments as it creates social distance
Use story telling approaches during the PD process and training of facilitators as it helps the communities better understand
Use lots of local games to explain the PD concepts, games help the participants open up and create a very conducive environment for learning
Muhammad Shafique is a specialist in communication and behaviour change with areas of expertise in malaria and dengue prevention and control, maternal and newborn health, and polio eradication. He has worked with Malaria Consortium, Save the Children, and Merlin organzations and in many countries, including Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Pakistan.
To learn about other individuals with experience working with PD, visit our Facilitators page.