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Promoting positive social outcomes. Community participatory approach should be at the forefront, says Hajiji
Published on: Thursday, October 19, 2023
By: Sherell Jeffrey
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Promoting positive social outcomes. Community participatory approach should be at the forefront, says Hajiji
Hajiji said the spirit of the SMJ is inclusive; consequently, the people of Sabah are encouraged to contribute ideas to the development plan in order to continuously enhance it. 
Kota Kinabalu: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor believes a community participatory approach should be at the forefront of societal efforts to improve behavioural outcomes.

Citing Sabah’s ability to implement the Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) development plan through participatory approaches, he believes that a good development plan must integrate viewpoints from all stakeholders, with emphasis on input from the grassroots level.

“The community participatory approach ensures ownership of the policy by the people of Sabah,” he said in his address when officiating the first Asia Pacific Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) Regional Symposium 2023 at the Sabah International Convention Centre, here, Wednesday.

His speech text was delivered by Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Abidin Madingkir.

SBCC, which is sometimes referred to as “SBC” or Communication for Development (C4D), is an evidence-based strategic process promoting the adoption and maintenance of positive and measurable behaviours and social change in individuals, groups or communities.  

Using strategic communication to promote positive social outcomes, SBCC employs a systematic process beginning with formative research and behaviour analysis, followed by communication planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Abidin (centre) representing the Chief Minister. Also seen are Robert (left) and Kasim.

Hajiji said the spirit of the SMJ is inclusive; consequently, the people of Sabah are encouraged to contribute ideas to the development plan in order to continuously enhance it. 

“Up until June this year, we received 1,391 inputs from the people of Sabah, of which 52 per cent are related to human capital and the wellbeing of the people,” he said. 

He said the translation of citizen wellbeing can be seen from the State’s emphasis on empowering women, particularly in the field of legal literacy, on top of other aspects such as financial, health and social literacy.

The State Department of Women Affairs has been tasked with this initiative. Last year, a total of 2,109 participants benefited from this programme, he said. 

“To ensure a brighter future for human capital in Sabah, we also focus on our children, in particular those under the age 12 years who suffer from malnutrition.

“Until the end of last year, we covered five districts for this initiative alone, and we will not stop there.

“This plan to care for the wellbeing and future of our children will be further expanded,” he added. 

The two-day symposium is co-organised by Unicef Malaysia and country’s three leading universities – Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia.

The symposium, titled “Unlocking the Potential of SBCC for Community Development and Resilience in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific,” brought together more than 150 professionals, experts and thought leaders from around the globe.

The Asia Pacific SBCC Regional Symposium 2023 aims to unlock the potential for SBCC investment opportunities in the region, and to strengthen the SBCC network with various stakeholders, strategic partners and key players in the region for sustainable development.

“The solution to many problems children face today has roots in social norms and behaviours,” said Unicef Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative Brunei Darussalam, Robert Gass. 

He said guided by the mantra “Nothing about us, without us”, social and behaviour change strategies have the potential to empower individuals to make choices that protect their rights, develop communities and promote resilience. 

Also present was UMS Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Kasim Mansor who reiterated UMS’ stand to remain steadfast in its commitment towards supporting Unicef programmes in Sabah.

“Our efforts are closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and policies set forth by the Sabah State Government, particularly the SMJ initiative. 

“Together, we strive to create a positive impact on the lives of the people in Sabah,” he said, adding the symposium marks a significant milestone in the journey towards promoting effective social and behaviour change communication in Sabah.

Meanwhile, UPM-UNICEF C4D Programme Director Dr Tham Jen Sern said the distinctiveness of the three institutions behind the SBCC initiative mirrors their diverse objectives, united by a common purpose, which is to contribute to Malaysia’s social development and wellbeing.

“Together, we hope to bring rays of hope and opportunities across a broad spectrum of society,” Dr Tham said.

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