Part 3: ICT4D and behavior change

One of the most common uses of OMPT’s video technology is to promote behavior change. Changing behavior can be a critical step in improving the lives of those in desperate situations. It’s also one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives and improve standards of living.

Behavior change efforts are particularly effective in addressing concerns related to public health: issues like the use of nets to prevent malaria, proper sanitation techniques or common sense family planning. Malaria has killed more people throughout history than any other single disease, but the simple installation and proper use of mosquito nets is one of the most efficient ways to reduce the chance of infection. Teaching people the importance and correct use of a mosquito net is a prime example of how behavioral change can have a positive impact on a community. Other behavior change efforts relating to health teach concepts and practices like proper handwashing technique, correct waste disposal, the importance of breastfeeding and the use of contraceptives to prevent unexpected pregnancies and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

But health and family planning aren’t the only sets of issues that can be positively impacted by behavior change intervention; farming techniques can also be improved by promoting certain changes in behavior. By following proper farming techniques, farmers can increase production without increasing workload, earning more income for their families.

By employing behavior change techniques, intervention becomes proactive rather than reactive. The economic impact of preventing the spread of disease through behavioral change should be apparent—not getting sick at all will always be cheaper than getting sick and then treating the illness. The economic impact of behavioral change when applied to other sectors, like agriculture, is similarly obvious.

Of course, behavior change requires education. That’s where we at OMPT come in. With our cameras, projectors and the expertise gleaned from our Video Education Workshops, local groups can use modern video technology to promote healthy behaviors. The reach that our solar-powered charging kits provide means that these groups can bring positive change to regions that lack electricity as easily as to those with modern infrastructure.

A classic saying comes to mind: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Behavior change efforts follow the same principle.

Participants in an OMPT Video Education Workshop demonstrate and record correct hand-washing techniques

Participants in an OMPT Video Education Workshop demonstrate and record correct hand-washing techniques

A video on the proper use of bug nets to prevent malaria created by attendees to the OMPT Video Education Workshop in the Gambia.