18 March 2022 - Global

Save the Children Excited to Partner with University of California San Diego on U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Social & Behavior Change Research Project

Save the Children announces it has joined a global partnership to generate an evidence-based understanding of agency, empowerment, and how they influence the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities through Agency for All Project.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has funded a $38 million, five-year project led by the Centre on Gender Equity and Health (GEH) at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science. The project is an international, multi-institutional effort to understand and promote agency for individuals, communities and local organisations in low- and middle-income countries.

“Agency for All is a very exciting, new global project for us. Together with this highly capacitated consortium of local and international partners, we will be able to explore gaps in measurement for social and behavior change (SBC) projects, including community engagement. This will help us to more effectively reach communities and households in need with SBC interventions that stick,” says Antje Becker-Benton, Managing Director, Behavior Change & Community Health, Save the Children, USA.

“Agency for All” is intended to develop and foster social and behavioral research resulting in a better understanding of how to promote the voices of local people within their own communities and within health and development programming.

It addresses multiple dimensions of health and well-being, including maternal and child health, infectious disease, HIV/AIDS, family planning and reproductive health. The program will work with diverse populations across the globe, with a focus on Africa and South Asia.

GEH will coordinate the consortium of global, regional and local leaders to conduct research and implement solutions, informed by local priorities and agendas, said Rebecka Lundgren, PhD, an applied anthropologist and associate professor of infectious diseases and global public health, who will serve as project director.

“Agency for All will look at the complex questions of ‘agency,’ and what that means for different people, organisations and systems around the world, as well as for our own consortium partners,” said Lundgren. “We are honored to bring together a global consortium of world class researchers and implementers to discover what works to convert intention into action within social and behavior change programs and make it work for real people.”

The initiative will concentrate on three geographical areas or hubs in East Africa, West Africa and South Asia, collaborating with specific organisations and networks in those regions. In addition to Save the Children, these partners include the Centre for Catalyzing Change (India), Evidence for Sustainable Human Development Systems in Africa (Cameroon), Makerere University (Uganda), Matchboxology (South Africa), Sambodhi (India), Shujaaz, Inc. (Kenya), University of Witwatersrand (South Africa), CORE Group, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Promundo-US, and Viamo.

“These locally-led partnerships are critical,” said Paul Bukuluki, PhD, director of research for Agency for All and an associate professor at Makerere University. “We hope to develop context-specific mechanisms for measuring agency, and more effectively evaluate the approaches that help us improve the quality of life of women and men at the margins of society.”

About the Center on Gender Equity and Health

The GEH conducts multidisciplinary research to understand and eliminate gender inequities, specifically in the areas of child marriage, unpaid labor, gender-based violence and gender social norms.  It is directed by Anita Raj, PhD, professor of infectious diseases and global public health in the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

About Save the Children

The Behavior Change & Community Health team at Save the Children, USA aims to advance the effective use of social and behavior change approaches that are grounded in community engagement methodology for lasting social change. Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In the United States and around the world, we do whatever it takes – every day and in times of crisis – so children can fulfill their rights to a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. With over 100 years of expertise, we are the world’s first and leading independent children’s organisation – transforming lives and the future we share.


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