Food safety has gradually become a major socioeconomic and political concern in many developing countries. In a region where agriculture is a pillar of the economy such as in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), ensuring that high-quality and safe food is available for consumption is valuable not only in trade efficiency and wider market opportunities but also in securing health and well-being. This issue is significantly important in Mekong countries where, in 2018 alone, have reported 852 food safety incidents in Cambodia, 2,317 in Lao PDR, 1,472 in Myanmar and 2,710 in Vietnam (Mekong Institute, 2018).
While there has been increasing demand for safe food for the past years, especially in the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, building a food safety culture is still a challenge. Public awareness on the importance of safe food consumption is still low, rendering producers—often small-scale enterprises—as well as consumers complacent in adopting safe food practices. Basic scientific and technical information are still inaccessible to the public, resulting in a lack of awareness and understanding of potential risks and hazards associated with food preparation and hygiene. Providing the public with a deeper understanding of actual and potential hazards, including the likelihood of occurrence and severity of effects, will contribute to promoting food safety culture in the GMS.
Communication to raise awareness and promote safer food handling and consumption, however, must occur regularly, be tailored to the target audience and easily accessible for it to be effective. It should also consider the evolving landscape of technology in determining the right platforms to utilize and ensure that information flows continuously and is consumable to the receiver.
Within these contexts, Mekong Institute (MI) will organize the Regional Training Program on Social and Behavior Change Communication for Safer Food on February 20 to March 3, 2023 in Khon Kaen, Thailand. The modules are designed adapting the FHI 360 C-Modules: A Learning Package for Social and Behavior Change Communication.
The training program designed to enhance the professional capacity of key agri-food stakeholders on promoting safe food consumption through social and behavior change communication (SBCC).
Specifically, the course aimed to:
- Introduce communication and engagement strategies that can be employed to further promote food safety awareness; and
- Strengthen the capacity of participants to design, deliver and evaluate effective safe food consumption campaign plan for the public.
Information and communication officers from government agencies and non-government organizations working on food safety-related issues in the region will be invited in this training program. Representatives from the academic sectors who are into food safety related topics or those in the communication department will also be encouraged to join the course. Priority will be given to agencies and organizations engaged in works related to science and technology, agriculture, public health, or industry and trade.
Module 1: Introduction to Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC)
This module will discuss the basic concepts of Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC), including its characteristics and principles and key factors about behavior. It will also provide the importance of SBCC in promoting safe food handling and consumption. The C-Planning Model, which is the framework for SBCC, will be introduced as the pillar for the next modules.
- Definition of SBCC
- Characteristics of SBCC
- Principles of SBCC
- Socio-ecological Model
- Importance of SBCC key strategies in raising awareness
Module 2: Understanding food safety as the first step
This module is designed to tackle the first step in C-Planning, which is “Understanding the Situation.” Since this is a food safety course, it will focus on basic food safety concepts and terminologies and the current food safety and communication landscape in CLMV. Participants will have a chance to analyze the food safety situation in the region to gain an insight into the issue from different perspectives. The results of the analysis will be combined with the identification of the current food safety awareness initiatives and their key stakeholders as a segue to the next learning module.
Broadly, the country reports shall cover: 1) people and context analyses; 2) problem statements; 3) government agencies and private sector actors involved in promoting food safety; 4) food safety awareness initiatives; and 5) challenges faced and opportunities in engaging the public into food safety campaigns. These country reports will be a take away on how they can take advantage of the current national food safety campaign efforts and develop a more effective communication plan.
A learning visit to food businesses in Khon Kaen will also be scheduled to provide participants with best practices in promoting food safety in the local context.
- Food safety and hygiene
- Food safety hazards and control
- Food safety situation analysis using a problem tree and people and society analysis
- Country report: Current food safety and communication landscape in CLMV
- Learning visits
Module 3: Conceptualizing the communication strategies
The module will guide the participants on developing their communication strategy to promote food safety handling and consumption. It will help them in determining their target audience, developing SMART communication objectives, and selecting the right communication channels based on functionality, advantages and disadvantages.
At the end of the module, the participants will be able to identify some parts of the communication campaign and produce a message brief for effective messaging.
- Identifying the food safety audience
- Formulating communication objectives
- Crafting effective messages (Message Brief)
- Utilizing communication platforms and digital tools
Module 4: Creating a campaign plan
The module will apply participants’ key learning through the development of a food safety campaign plan. Before planning, participants will be given tips and techniques on content development, creative techniques, and things to consider on pre-testing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
For the campaign plan, the participants will work as a country but each member will focus on one communication activity each. At the end of the module, the campaign plan will be presented, in which the resource person and other participants will be asked to provide comments and other suggestions. They will be given enough time to revise the campaign plan after the presentation.
- Using social media for digital campaign
- Creating visual and audio-visual products using Canva
- Planning an event
- Pre-testing and implementation
- Monitoring and evaluation
Module 5: Action Planning
Since the campaign plan is expected to be launched in time for the World Consumers Rights Day in March, an action plan of the assigned communication activity will be developed and presented by each participant. The action plan will detail the activities they will do in order to hold the proposed activity. They will also work on the concept note of the identified activities. MI, through ADC, will work closely with the participants in delivering their action plan as an outreach activity under PROSAFE.
Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia (Director of Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department)
Phone: (+66) 4320-2411 ext. 3101 Fax: (+66) 4320-3656
Mobile: (+66) 87-365-6240
Ms. Anne Claudine D. Dayo (Program Coordinator)
Phone: +66 (0) 43 202 411 ext. 3104 Fax: +66 (0) 43 203 656
Mobile: +66 (0) 842343417