The ICEC and Global Social Mobilization

News and development about SOCMOB are welcome.  They should be addressed to Director, ICEC, Tulane University, SPHTM, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 2200, New Orleans, LA 70112.  Fax: 504-584-3653. Email:

Introduction Certificate Course and Prototype Curriculum
Guidelines for National Program Development Network Review



The decade of the 80s was characterized by many as one of retrogression for development, especially in a large number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America and South Asia. In a bleak landscape dotted with setbacks in social and economic development, the Child Survival and Development initiative stood out as a beacon of hope and one of the few positive forward movements. The solid achievements of the Universal Child Immunization and Control of Diarrheal Disease programs have demonstrated that concerted efforts at mobilizing various elements of society for a common developmental goal can overcome long odds and reach goals hitherto thought unattainable in a limited time-frame of just a few years.

Though UNICEF has been the principal player in such mobilizing activities, similar efforts at involving various societal elements for development, albeit under different nomenclature, have also been advocated by various development organizations. For instance, WHO, a close partner with UNICEF in successful immunization and oral rehydration work, has in recent years used the term "Health Promotion" to denote its holistic approach to health education. Those engaged in family planning, nutrition and child survival projects have practiced development communication and used marketing techniques with varying degrees of success in what is generally referred to as Information, Education, and Communication (IEC).

Following the U.N. Children's Summit which called for accelerated action in development efforts, UNICEF decided to subject "social mobilization" to the rigor of an academic discipline with the view of examining its concept and improving its practice. In 1991, Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine was asked to undertake the task of developing a Global Social Mobilization Training and Research Program. The need for such a program was recognized by UNDP, WHO, UNFPA, PAHO, USHHS and USAID, which gave small grants and/or technical support to the program.


Even as new advances in science and technology promise new vistas on the horizon of human development and welfare, our ability to apply these advances lags behind, particularly for the benefit of those who need them most. This dilemma and challenge has pre-occupied the international development community for some time. Methods to improve management of centrally planned programs, endeavors to generate critical political will to provide appropriate direction and support to development programs, and efforts to involve communities as decision makers and implementers of their own development have received considerable attention. Communicators, educators and marketers have contributed to efforts that aim at the application of knowledge. Change agents and grassroots organizers have urged the empowerment of those segments of society whose participation and involvement is crucial in the effort toward equity and justice.

There is no escape, however, from the fact that development involves change, and change involves complex interaction among groups in different segments of society who hold different attitudes, values and interests. Changes made within one group affect other groups. Isolated attempts to involve various groups are not enough. There is a need to tackle these complex tasks in a broader strategic framework. Training and applied research in mobilization work for development are necessary.


Social Mobilization, as defined by UNICEF, is a broad scale movement to engage people's participation in achieving a specific development goal through self-reliant efforts. It involves all relevant segments of society: decision and policy makers, opinion leaders, bureaucrats and technocrats, professional groups, religious associations, commerce and industry, communities and individuals. It is a planned decentralized process that seeks to facilitate change for development through a range of players engaged in interrelated and complementary efforts. It takes into account the felt needs of the people, embraces the critical principle of community involvement, and seeks to empower individuals and groups for action.

Mobilizing the necessary resources, disseminating information tailored to targeted audiences, generating intersectoral support and fostering cross-professional alliances are also part of the process. While the components of the process may be everyday practice in many development programs, they tend to be taken up in isolation of each other. Social mobilization in total aims at a continuum of activities in a broad strategic framework. The process encompasses dialogue and partnership with a wide spectrum of societal elements. At the policy level, the outcomes should be a supportive framework for decision making and resource allocation to empower communities to act at the grassroots level. The outcomes should be people's active involvement ranging from identifying a need to implementation in achieving the development objective and evaluation effort. The solidarity of bureaucrats and technocrats and a broad alliance of partners among various non-governmental groups are equally critical for the attainment of any change-oriented development goal. Simply stated, social mobilization calls for a journey among partners and results in the successful transformation of development goals into societal action.

Though circumstances differ from country to country and often from one part of a country to another, health programs depend upon the collaboration of other sectors. WHO has stressed the need to recognize the intersectoral nature of health, but little concrete action has been taken to effectuate such an approach. For a health program to succeed, the health sector needs not just a helping hand from others, but a genuine partnership whereby ownership of the programs is shared and the stakes of other sectors are clearly recognized. The societal mobilization strategy calls for partnership with all stake holders, which are illustrated in the diagram:


I. Political - policy makers

The extreme left column names some types of policy makers. Advocacy with and among leaders in this group helps foster the commitment that will clear the way for action. The goal here is to build consensus with sound data, to create a knowledgeable and supportive environment for decision-making, including the allocation of adequate resources.

II. Bureaucratic/Technocratic – government workers and technical experts

Policy makers depend on the technocrats, bureaucrats, and service professionals to provide the rationale for decisions as well as to plan and implement programs. This sector includes disparate groups, each with its own agenda, conflicting interests and concerns. Harmonizing the disparate units in this sector is probably one of the greatest challenges in development, because development specialists have hitherto failed to recognize how difficult it is to foster unity among government units and technical groups.

III. Non-governmental sector

This covers a multitude of interests. Non governmental organizations for special purposes, social institutions and associations that represent organized support, religious groups with their ideological bends, commerce and industry that operate on a for-profit basis, and professional groups that exist to advance their interests are here. Though difficult to mobilize, they do not hide their positions. If their stakes are given recognition, they are important partners and allies to mobilize the civil society for various health objectives.

IV. Community Groups

Community leaders, schools, churches, mosques and grassroots groups are critical to get communities involved. They help transform development goals into action. Unfortunately, they are often not given a voice in identifying problems and designing solutions. Popular participation takes place here.

V. Households and Individuals

Individual actions are the ultimate pay-off of the health program. In the household, where such behavioral actions take place, key individuals in traditional society often hold sway. There needs to be deliberate action to inform and educate individuals in the household so that they can make informed choices.



Based on Tulane's experience.

Twelve to eighteen months may be required to carry out the following:


a. Form a core group (8-10) interested in SOCMOB training. They should include: where possible, those who have received training at Tulane; potential faculty members with background in research/evaluation, economics/management, and communications/education; and practitioner in IEC, development managers, marketing, policy specialists, development funding group (government units, NGOs, and development agencies, e.g. UNICEF, UNDP, USAID foundations, etc.). The group headed by the program director/prime mover will be charged with doing the necessary research in determining the parameters of a prototype curriculum, and subsequently, the implementation of the prototype training program.

b. Conduct one or two case studies of development programs where social mobilization efforts were evident. These will be useful not only to provide a better understanding of the societal structure and the various elements of relevance to the development program objectives but also to identify the specific social mobilization needs of the country as well as recognize effective tactics and strategies in the national context. These will be helpful in guiding the design of the courses. The case study approach is also very effective in the instruction process. Potential faculty members may be involved in doing the case studies.

c. Establish an advisory council, membership of which should include government leaders, development specialists, educators, as well as representatives of potential employers of SOCMOB graduates, i.e. departments of health, agriculture, education, media, etc. This council can serve as a broad-based umbrella group for the program; sharing ownership of the program will give firm intersectoral base. The council, for which the program director will serve as secretary, may meet two or three times to review drafts of the prototype submitted by the core group and get its overall sanction of the curriculum.


a. Review existing courses, identify suitable faculty members from academia as well as from the practical world of development, propose training for instructors and engage outside technical support where necessary. This could be done by the core group members, or sometimes an outside consultant without ties with any institution in the country and can be more objective and can carry more weight.

b. Based on the work of the core group, individual faculty teams identify knowledge, skills, and competencies needed in the national context and develop courses (Tulane's prototype included three clusters: economics/management, research/evaluation, and communication/education. But these groups may be rearranged, or new subjects introduced based on the needs of the country and/or region.) Faculty teams submit proposed course outlines of the prototype curriculum to the core group for approval after review and comments.

c. Organize a retreat for all faculty members and small group facilitators (Tulane's prototype included small group sessions for reflective learning and proposal preparation) to ensure that all faculty members understood the nature and scope of the process involved in the social mobilization strategy. Their courses needed to be conducted with participatory methods and taught in an integrated way. Using the same case studies throughout the program would be a major plus. Group facilitators are expected to play a key role to identify problems, as the training program progresses.


a. Recruit participants working with members of the advisory council. Arrange funding deserving candidates.

b. Arrange administrative details, i.e. travel, housing, tuition payment, health insurance, remittance, briefing, etc., for the participants and off-campus members of the faculty team guest lecturers, and field visits.

c. Conduct orientation for participants and help with their adjustment.

d. Evaluate the program via individual course evaluation, mid-term interviews, and evaluate program information exchange. Focus group and one-on-one interview methods are recommended.

e. Prepare a final report on the prototype program with recommendations for revision content as well as instruction format.


a. Submit report to the Council for discussion.

b. Identify potential partners for institutionalization. Organizations represented in the council are prime candidates.

c. Introduce elements that will make the program a sustainable one (government subsidy, tuition income, grants, endowment, etc.)

d. Begin work with various development programs on research projects that will impact on development of program implementation.


Note: A prototype curriculum was used for the social mobilization certificate course.


To provide theoretical and practical training in applying social mobilization strategies to child survival and other health related activities.


Mid-career professionals working in developing countries who will assume management positions in health related fields.

A three month intensive certificate program on social mobilization was organized by Tulane University in May 1996. The program was developed by Tulane's International Communication Enhancement Center, in close collaboration with UNICEF and with support from UNDP/WHO, USAID and UNFPA.

A highly effective development strategy pioneered by UNICEF, social mobilization (SOCMOB), aims at transforming development goals into societal action. Embracing the critical principle of community involvement, SOCMOB seeks to empower individuals for action. SOCMOB is a broad-scale development approach that calls for a continuum of activities, ranging from advocacy at the political level to information and education at the community level. It includes developing intersectoral support, bureaucratic and technocratic solidarity, and forming alliances with the non-governmental and private sectors.

Subjects Covered in the Course




Designed to meet the growing need for professionals with the diversity of skills required to conduct SOCMOB, particularly in the field of public health, the program is open to candidates from development as well as from government agencies. Successful candidates received a certificate in SOCMOB and up to 18 credits toward a graduate degree. Depending on a candidate's qualifications, these credits could represent as much as half of the credit requirements for a Masters degree from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.


SOCMOB Training and Research: A Global Perspective

In cooperation with UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA, Tulane is playing a lead role in a global social mobilization training and research program. This initiative seeks to develop SOCMOB training and research capacity at institutions of higher learning in several regions, to form a global information exchange and technical support network, and to eventually launch a social mobilization journal.


The Tulane SOCMOB Certificate Course should serve as a prototype for adaptation by national institutes. The prototype curriculum was designed for international participants from different countries with diverse background. On purpose, the prototype does not cover the context of national development, since each country has a different development plan. However, for a national SOCMOB program it is recommended that the subjects of national development and changing societal framework should be taken up at the beginning of the course. To date, The Philippines, Ecuador, Benin, Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia have developed their own SOCMOB programs. Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and China have definite plans to start SOCMOB training in the near future. ( See Network for a fuller review of current status).

For those interested in developing national SOCMOB training programs, please contact Professor Jack Ling, Director, ICEC, Tulane University School of Public Health, New Orleans. For UNICEF, inquiries should go to Dr. Erma Wright Manoncourt, a member of the Tulane/UNICEF SOCMOB faculty team, who is now Chief of Program Communication and Social Mobilization, UNICEF HQ New York. In Asia, inquiries should go to Dr. Ofelia Valdacanas, Regional Communications Officer for UNICEF's East Asia and Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok.

The 1996 SOCMOB course was the third, and final, one at Tulane University. The SOCMOB courses and credits are included in Tulane University's new Executive Masters in Applied Developmental and Health.

The intensive program drew upon a consortium of three faculties: Management, Communication/Education and Research/Evaluation. An advisor panel comprised of leading academics and practitioners, such as Dr. Lawrence Green, renowned health promotion scholar; Dr. Everett Rogers, the distinguished diffusion and communication researcher; Dr. James Sarn, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health; and Dr. Asdrubal de la Torre, former Minister of Health and Director of CIESPAL, Ecuador, helped Tulane with the curriculum development. Senior officers of development agencies concerned with communication and SOCMOB also served on this panel.


Review of Network Development


1. China: A total of 11 participants came to Tulane under the sponsorship UNICEF Office in Beijing - four in 1993, three in 1994, and four in 1996. One of them is a senior faculty member, Dr. Guo Yau, Associate Dean of the School of Public Health, Beijing Medical University, who came in 1994. Among the four here in 1996, three were associate professors and one was a full professor. Based on discussion in Beijing in 1998, UNICEF is interested in trying to build such a program in the two schools of public health: Beijing and West China (Chengdu).

The new Director of Health Promotion/Education, Ministry of Health, Dr. Hou Peisheng, and UNICEF’s Health/Nutrition Senior Adviser, Dr. Ray Yip, have agreed in 1998 to start within the next two years two SOCMOB training centers, one in Beijing under Dr. Kuo Yan, Associate Dean of Beijing Medical University School of Public Health, and the other in Chengdu under Dr. Ma Xiao, Dean of Academic Affairs, West China Medical University. Dr. Guo was a 1994 Tulane SOCMOB Course graduate and Dr. Ma a Visiting Scholar at Tulane in 1997. Work is also underway for a SOCMOB/Health Promotion book, based in part on the lecture series delivered by Prof. Jack Ling in Ningpo on a WHO consulting assignment in 1998.

2. Philippines: The College of Mass Communications, University of the Philippines (UP), Dilhnan Campus, Quezon City, is the principal player, and works closely,with its sister colleges of social work, management and public health. It has already conducted two two-week workshops in Manila and one in Leyte for provincial level cadres, using part of the Tulane prototype material. It is developing a credit course next year, and a degree program in 1996. Dr. Delia Barcelona, former dean of the college, was the program director, supported by two participants of the 1993 prototype training program, Professor Andres Sevilla of UP and Grace Agoncillo, Chief of Human Resource Development of the Philippine Information Agency. Delia has since joined the UNFPA staff in New York. The current dean, Professor Luis V. Teodoro, has committed to continue the program. The Leyete Institute of Technology and the UP campus in Leyete have both asked to develop the program for Region VIII, one of the poorer regions in the country. Dr. Tess Stuart, UNICEF's Communication Officer, has continued to give SOCMOB high priority in the Philippine country program.

In addition to its main campus in Dilhnan, UP's Institute of Development Communication in Los Banos has incorporated SOCMOB into their programs. Dr. Rex Navarro, Director of the Institute, came to Tulane as a Visiting Scholar during the 1996 SOCMOB training program.

3. Vietnam: Health Education Institute and the School of Public Health in Hanoi are interested in developing the program. Dr. Thanh Xuan Nghiem, Deputy Director of the Health Education Institute, and Mr. Nyuyen Hun Thinh, Assistant Information Officer, UNICEF Hanoi, were participants in the 1994 Tulane program. Dr. Tran Thi Hoa, Senior Lecturer from the School of Public Health, is here with the 1996 SOCMOB program. Dr. Tran was expected to play a key role in developing the program upon his return at the end of 1996.

No progress has yet been reported. However, with the appointment of Morten Giersing as UNICEF’s Representative in Hanoi, the prospect of starting a program there appears good. Morten, former Director of Communication at UNICEF HQ, is a strong supporter of SOCMOB capacity building. A new UNV assigned to UNICEF’s nutrition program was recently given SOCMOB briefing and orientation in the Philippines.

4. Thailand: Mahidol’s Faculty of Public Health has committed to start a new Masters degree in health communication with SOCMOB as its core in 1999. Dr. Chaninat Vorathai, Associate Professor of the Health Education Department, spent two months at Tulane as a Visiting Scholar researching the curriculum for the new degree.


1. Benin:A 1994 Tulane SOCMOB course graduate, Dr. Narcisse de Medeiros, plays a leading role in developing a sub-regional training program in the WHO-supported regional public health institute in Cotonou. Dr. Hossou Bienvenue, a senior health promotion officer of the Ministry of Health and a 1993 SOCMOB participant, was the second key player. The program is entering its fourth year of operation.

2. Ethiopia: Three participants in the 1994 program, all faculty members - Melake Demena, Lecturer, Gondor College of Medical Science, and Abebe Mariam and Prof. Seleshi Mariam, both of Jimma Institute of Health Sciences. Abebe and Seleshi have started a five-week training program at Jimma in 1997. Tulane and UNICEF Regional Office in Nairobi provided some technical support to the Jimma program.

3. Senegal: Dr. Issakha Diallo, who took the 1994 SOCMOB has just been appointed Director of the Public Health Insititute in Dakar. He has expressed a strong interest in starting the training program in Senegal in the past. The prospect is good that he will take some steps in that direction. Ana Bathhilly, the other Senegalese SOCMOB graduate, has left UNICEF for the private sector.

4. Tanzania: The Chief Academic Officer of the University of Dar es Salaam, Professor Penina Mlama, who spent two months in Tulane as a member of the faculty team for the 1993 program, was all ready to move. She formed a university-wide committee and was to present the plan of operation earlier in 1995, but there has been no further communication from her. Funding is a possible constraint, and the University is suppose to be undergoing reorganization - thus the delay of the implementation of the SOCMOB plan. A technical assistance visit would give Mlama the necessary boost to get it going. Also the UNICEF office needs to put some resources behind such an effort.

5. Nigeria: Nigeria was to be the first country to introduce SOCMOB training, but changes in UNICEF's leadership in Lagos suspended the ambitious plan developed in 1993 which would have involved three Nigerian universities. However, the current UNICEF representative has revived the project, albeit on a more modest scale. Dr. Adebayo Fayoyin, UNICEF's Communication Officer in Lagos, who worked in academia before joining UNICEF, was a graduate of the 1996 course and will begin developing the program beginning with the University of Lagos.

6. Ghana: The School of Public Health, University of Ghana in Accra started a SOCMOB trainingprogram in 1999, which follows the model of Benin. One of the key players, Dr. Matilda Poppoe, visited Tulane to receive a brief orientation of the Tulane prototype curriculum and to obtain relevant material for the course. 


1. Bolivia: Alan Court, the UNICEF representative until 1995, saw the value of the program and mobilized the Catholic University in La Paz and University Nur in Santa Cruz to develop the program. Three participants from Bolivia in the 1994 Tulane course are all adjunct faculty members - Nazario Tirado of UNICEF La Paz, Joe Luis Aguirre of PARI, both connected to Catholic U. and Judith Moltinedo of University Nur. Cynthia de Windt (Mrs. Court), a former UNICEF training officer and a freelance consultant, was a visiting scholar at Tulane. Unfortunately, Alan Court's transfer from Bolivia to the regional office, interrupted the development of the program in Bolivia. To date, no word has come from La Paz about progress.

2. Ecuador: CIESPAL, the main communication institute in the region and part of the OAS network, has committed in writing to develop the program. Two participants from CIESPAL (Gloria Davila, Director of Research, in 1993, and the assistant, Ana Lopez in 1994) supported by UNICEF key players. Personnel changes have hampered progress in Ecuador. Gloria Davila has resigned from CIESPAL. The program was not repeated in 1996.

3. Brazil: Agop Kayayan, UNICEF representative until 1998, was a member of the faulty team at Tulane in 1993, 1994 and 1996. The Rector of the University of Brasilia made a commitment and the first course was organized in 1996 by the dean of community studies Tania Montoro, who came to the 1994 program. Jose Araujo from UNICEF's CEARA Office, a participant in the 1996 program, took the lead in developing a SOCMOB training program in Northeast Brazil.

4. Colombia: Maria Polanco, Director of the School of Communication, Universidad del Valle, Cali, a participant in the 1996 program, was sent here by UNICEF to start a program in her university. UNICEF Bogota is backing her effort. The program started in 1998.


1. Bahrain: Dr. Amal Al Jowder, Head of Health Education, Ministry of Health and a participant of the 1994 SOCMOB program here, introduced a number of the subjects into the curriculum of the Institute of Public Health in her country. She hopes to expand the SOCMOB components into a full program with support from WHO EMRO.

2. Egypt: WHO EMRO would like to include social mobilization in its leadership training program. The High Institute of Public Health in Alexandria was designated as the body to take this up. Due to internal difficulties, the head of the program could not come to the 1994 course. However, EMRO's regional information officer, Adil Salahi, came to the 1994 the course. EMRO tried without success to get someone from Alexandria to enroll in the 1996 SOCMOB program. It is possible that EMRO's interest can be directed toward the Pakistan initiative.

3. Pakistan: One full time and two part time participants to the 1996 SOCMOB training program. Raana Syed, UNICEF's Chief Intersectoral Support and Communication Officer in Islamabad, will spearhead the SOCMOB program in Pakistan. She will work with Sattar Chaudhry, Senior Health Promotion Advisor to the Ministry of Health, and Suleman Malik, who has joined the UNICEF staff. The program may take shape within the next year with the Ministry of Health as the coordinator and the participation of other ministries.

4. UAE: Dr. Saeed Abdulla bin Ishaq, the director of planning for the Ministry of Health, was a participant in the 1994 course at Tulane. Two UAE physicians, Jamal Al Mutawa and Mustafa Al Hashemi, enrolled in the 1996 program. Jamal is associated with a training institution and interested in introducing SOCMOB to the Gulf area. There is interest in developing a program, if UNICEF or WHO will provide the support.


1. Taiwan, China: A total of seven participants from Taiwan enrolled in the three SOCMOB programs here at Tulane. Dr. Chen Cheng-Shing, Chief of Training and Development, Provincial Health Bureau, and Mr. Hsu Hsiang-Ming, Director of Tzu Chi Foundation's Secretariat, have indicated that they would like to introduce SOCMOB in their respective training programs.

2. Central Asia: The UNICEF area office has plans to develop SOCMOB capacity in these countries, and has sent three participants to the 1996 SOCMOB program at Tulane. Because of the lack of infrastructure and other technical considerations, no specific plan has been drawn up for SOCMOB training there.

3. Tulane: Priority is to support the network linkages, if called upon. In the meantime, an Executive Masters Degree in Applied Development and Health (36 credits, two three-month periods on campus over a year and a half) has been approved. 

4. Other Interested Countries: Participants from El Salvador, South Africa, Kuwait and Indonesia have indicated interests in introducing SOCMOB to their countries. In the case of South Africa, UNICEF's office in Pretoria has actually indicated that it will take steps to develop such a program. The other countries, especially Indonesia deserve follow up.


 1.  SOCMOB Featured in Influential Journal

Healthcare International, a quarterly briefing published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the Economist Group for executives at the highest level of the healthcare sector organization, carried an article about Social Mobilization in its 1999 3rd issue.  Teresa Jenna, a Tulane MPH graduate and a participant in the 1996 SOCMOB course, who owns an Internet health care company (, is the author.  Prof. J. Ling was quoted extensively and three figures from the publication, “IDD Elimination, Now and Forever, a communication guide,” were used to explain the SOCMOB strategy.

2.  WHO EMRO Adopts SOCMOB as Strategy for Health Promotion

At the 1999 annual meeting of WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region in Cairo, Mr. Adil Salahi, a participant of Tulane’s 1996 SOCMOB course and WHO’s Regional Information Officer for the region, presented a technical paper on “ Health Promotion and the Media” to member states of the region, in which SOCMOB was recommended as the strategy for health promotion.  An interesting debate involving many delegations took place at the meeting.  The committee adopted a resolution for specific actions to improve the collaboration between the health and media sectors within the framework of SOCMOB.  Prof. J. Ling prepared the technical paper.

 3.  SOCMOBers On the Move

Dr. Erma Manoncourt, Chief of Program Communication and SOCMOB, UNICEF HQ, has been transferred to New Delhi as UNICEF’s Deputy Representative for India.  Her replacement has not yet been announced. 

Jose Paulo de Araujo, participant in Tulane 1996 SOCMOB course, has been transferred from Brazil to Mozambique, where he will take steps to introduce SOCMOB.  Jose started SOCMOB training in CERRA State, Brazil, and laid the groundwork for continued SOCMOB activities there.

Maurice Apted, who played a key role in developing the Tulane/UNICEF SOCMOB program in 1992, has been seconded by UNICEF to the Regional UNAIDS Office for Asia Pacific in Bangkok as its inter-country communication officer.  He served in UNICEF’s offices for Vietnam and Laos before joining UNAIDS.






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