Community mobilization is a set of approaches that can help to increase demand-driven, accessible, and high-quality healthcare by enabling community members to plan, carry out, and evaluate health initiatives according to their own health priorities.
Chemonics uses an innovative community mobilization approach, called “Champion Communities” to enable community members to achieve their social and economic development objectives. The approach engages communities in undertaking specific actions that will lead to concrete benefits; for example, vaccinating children to promote child survival. What makes the Champion Communities approach unique is its use of clear incentives — most importantly, visible returns on investment in the short term — to quickly initiate and sustain community efforts. Progress toward objectives is assessed in a highly inclusive manner and on an ongoing basis, reinforcing community buy-in. There are four key drivers of change in the Champion Communities approach:
- Broad-based civic engagement in decision-making
- Incorporation of short-term, achievable targets to manage performance
- Frequent and inclusive performance management
- Rewards to initiate and reinforce activities and new behaviors
Chemonics uses Champion Communities and other community mobilization approaches in projects around the world to achieve a variety of results.
Engaging community leaders. In Madagascar, the Santénet project used a range of innovative social mobilization and communications programs and tools at the community level including Champion Communities, which focused on engaging community leadership to set specific short-term goals. The approach incorporated local action planning with ongoing monitoring and rewards for achievement. Other community mobilization activities complemented the approach: for example, “Everyone Invites Three,” coupled interpersonal communications with invitation cards for health events to help break cultural barriers to accessing family planning.
Institutionalizing quality service delivery. In West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian Health Sector Reform and Development Project uses the Champion Communities approach to complement efforts aimed at strengthening the institutional capacities and performance of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health, selected nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and eligible educational and professional institutions. Through this approach, Chemonics is helping establish community-clinic boards that develop and implement plans to improve outcomes based on community needs and priorities, and engage the Ministry of Health on transparent and accountable delivery of care.
Targeting at-risk populations. In the DRC, the Integrated HIV/AIDS Program has rolled out the Champion Communities approach in four provinces to engage with at-risk populations. Training-of-trainers sessions have created a pool of trainers who will work with target communities and local partners to effectively facilitate implementation and ownership of the Champion Community approach and assist partner organizations in their implementation of planned activities.