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Extension workers on positive deviance approach

Jul 12, 2011, 12:49 PM | Article By: Abdourahman Sallah

More than hundred extension workers drawn from line departments, institutions, NGOs, the Gambia Red Cross Society and the security apparatus recently concluded a four-day capacity building training of trainers on positive deviance approach at the Jenoi Training Centre in Lower River Region.

According to officials of the training organised by the Catholic Relief Service through Global Fund Malaria Grant, the forum was meant to capacitise the extension workers on behavioural change communication towards malaria disease and its related issues.

Speaking at the forum, Saikou Janneh, programme manager for behavioural change communication project, stated that positive deviance approach itself is part of the wider behaviour change communication strategy that revolves around the promotion of risk-reducing behaviour.

The professional definition of a deviance is, departing from the traditional way of doing things; in other words deviating from the norm, he says. 

Janneh said research in the field of behaviour change communication has shown beyond doubt that providing information alone and prescribing predetermined behaviour patterns for people, do not necessarily convey the anticipated behaviour change.

“Effective behaviour change communication transcends the parameters of merely providing information; it requires a supportive environment to trigger the expected change in behaviour,” he said. “Effective behaviour revolves around the message of the sender and the receiver.”

For his part, Mamadou Yahya Jallow, a community health nurse who also doubles as the lead facilitator, said positive deviance approach has been discovered by people who have toiled long in the field of communication.

According to Mr. Jallow, it is a user-friendly approach that gives you skills and confidence to conduct a positive deviance inquiry at community level. “This will help to identify solutions to community problems,” he added.

Positive deviance inquiry helps to establish community behavioral norms related to the problems to be addressed, he says, adding that the approach determines if there are any individuals or entities in the community who already exhibit desired behaviors.

Some of the steps in positive deviance, he says, include the feasibility of health session in the targeted communities, selecting and training to prepare the communities for the positive deviance inquiry to be conducted.

Positive deviance approach is a development approach that helps a community find existing and sustainable solutions to its problems by understanding the behaviour of positive deviant individuals within the community.