Harmonisation of the Conduct of Community Dialogues on Essential Family Practices in Madagascar

From the Constellation 2016 Report:

Training on SALT Community Dialogue

Since October 2015, the Ministry of Communication and Relations with Institutions (MCRI) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports with the support of UNICEF C4D have begun a process of critical reflection on the harmonisation of approaches to Community Dialogue applied in Madagascar. They contracted the international NGO, The Constellation, to carry out these reflections and develop a harmonised guide on Community Dialogue. 

Following this new orientation, the SALT approach, Search for Common Ground undertook a cascade training of community stakeholders (community agents and other village coaches) in the Atsimo Andrefana, Anosy and Analanjirofo regions.

A first series of activities relating to SALT Community Dialogue was carried out by the regional teams with community agents; the teams ensuring coaching and accompaniment of agents in this new approach. Through the SALT process, community groups were able to collectively develop a common dream for their communities, to see their potential and common strengths, to carry out their own self-assessment and to come up with a community action plan together.

After a year of project implementation, a series of capitalisation and sharing workshops in each intervention region were organised with key partners (MCRI, UNICEF and UNFPA). These workshops focused mainly on the capitalisation of project achievements and good practices in a spirit of exchange and sharing with all the stakeholders in each region of intervention.


Definition of Community Dialogue in Madagascar: 

Community Dialogue was largely developed and exploited during the implementation of the Essential Family Practices (EFPs) initiative. It is a space where members of the community are invited to discuss a problem/concern about the implementation of EFPs, previously identified by a small committee led by community agents. The aim is first of all to accustom the members of a community to interact with each other around the problem and, at the end of the meeting, together they define a community action plan on the practice discussed.

No in-depth evaluation of the relevance of the Community Dialogues was carried out; nevertheless, the representatives of the communities present at the capitalisation workshops all unanimously expressed their necessity and importance in community interactions and reflections. 

Other tools used by UNICEF are participatory theatre and radio programs that integrate information and success stories from local communities.


Community Dialogue in Madagascar in figures: 

14 people were trained in the SALT dialogue by The Constellation.

16,842 people attended community meetings, 9 times more than expected.

1840 community meetings by commune and region were held, more than 5 times more than expected.

All the fokontany, that is to say 27 administrative subdivisions, organised Community Dialogues.


UNICEF is seeing increased awareness among stakeholders about the relevance and importance of EFPs in households. Although many wait-and-see relationships with financial partners strongly persist in the participants' thoughts, these workshops have made it possible to address in a much more in-depth way the roles that local actors play in sustaining and taking charge of questions relating to the rights of children and the transformation of the initiative into actual practice within households.


Monique is a 35-year-old single mother living in the village of Ankiliabo, rural community of Ankililoaka. She has 3 children: one boy and two daughters. She did not send her son and her eldest daughter to school. Her son was instructed to keep the oxen from an early age, and her eldest daughter helps her with field work and also takes care of the house with her younger daughter.

Following Community Dialogue sessions in her village, she has always participated in discussions and debates in her group. She realised the mistakes she made toward her first two children that she did not send to school. She made the decision to send her six-year-old daughter to school.


The workshops also addressed the challenges and constraints encountered during implementation, and led to a joint reflection on areas for improvement to meet these challenges and identify improvements to be implemented.

The Regional Directorates of Communication and the Communication Delegates of targeted districts develop and follow a communication plan for the promotion of the rights of the child adapted to the context of their region.


Good practices identified:

- The importance of dialogue spaces created in the context of Community Dialogues, which is a place of expression of the community in relation to the issues addressed.

- Enhanced collaboration with notables and religious leaders who encourage communities to participate more actively in Community Dialogues

- The holding of community dialogue as a space for expression, mutual listening, then reflection and action among the members of the community, leading to a concerted action plan agreed by all.


What makes me proud is seeing community change. In Madagascar, during the implementation of the Community Dialogue developed with The Constellation in a SALT state of mind, I've seen changes in the way of working of community actors. Before, they came to educate, but after SALT, they not only facilitate the awareness of the community to take care of their health (the fight against polio campaign), but also encourage them to have a dream they will be able to reach.

I am proud that, through SALT, the devaluation of women has begun to disappear here.

Iharisoa Santatra, Madagascar governement, in her profile information on our online platform, photo courtesy of Laurie Khorchi.


SALT to fight against Dahalos without using violence?

“The officer participated in the SALT learning workshop. At first, the officer indicated his conviction: with the method he uses, that is to say by using force and through terror, we can indeed make people adopt the essential family practices or vaccinate children. However, after participating in the steps of community dialogue with SALT, he was convinced that SALT is the most appropriate approach. He literally changed his thinking. He said that we can use the SALT method as part of his rural security mission.”

Blog of Jean Modeste Ranaivoson, SALT facilitator in Madagascar

I thank Denis Larsen for sharing the Technical Report, UNICEF Madagascar, June 2016.

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Comment by Marie Lamboray on March 21, 2017 at 2:45pm

French version here:  p. 31-32


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