#ogilvychange Helps Young People in Madagascar Enjoy Safer Sex

As many of you know, the #ogilvychange team led by Rory Sutherland is supporting three Pimp My Cause member causes per year with their behaviour change service, which uses behavioural economics and so-called ‘nudge theory’ to make small changes to cause programmes that can lead to big differences in outcomes. The third cause to gain the support of the #ogilvychange team is the marine conservation social enterprise Blue Ventures.

Blue Ventures requested help with improving the sexual health of the Vezo people of southwest Madagascar, as part of their integrated approach that combines voluntary family planning services with locally led sustainable fisheries and marine conservation initiatives. This holistic model is based on the recognition that the protection of the environment is dependent above all on the sustainable well-being of the Vezo people who inhabit it.

Blue Ventures gains behaviour change support through Pimp My Cause

Since Blue Ventures' health programme was launched in 2007, the proportion of women using contraceptives has increased from 10% to 55%. This means women are more able to take control of their bodies, choosing when and how many children they have. They are better able to care and provide for their children, engage in natural resource management, and strike a more sustainable balance with the marine environment.

Despite high levels of awareness about the importance of using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like syphilis, condom use however remains low: in a survey conducted last year, 88% of people said that condoms protect against STIs, yet only 15% reported using a condom the last time they had sex. Blue Ventures has done an excellent job of education around these issues, but there is a gap between knowledge and actual behaviour, which is why they needed #ogilvychange’s expertise in creatively applying the principles of the behavioural sciences.

The #ogilvychange team has developed an action plan to build on the work already being done by Blue Ventures, which applies behavioural insights to make condoms a more normal part of young people’s sexual relationships in Madagascar. By incorporating their solutions into Blue Ventures’ existing programme activities, #ogilvychange has given them solutions that are easy to implement within their current budget, that activate all of their current resources for exposure and promotion, and that adds a new dimension to their existing sustainable fishing campaign – Vezo Aho.

Based on the barriers to condom use identified by Blue Ventures’ research and with insights from the #ogilvychange team, their solutions were designed to fulfil the following aims:

  • To create a self-perpetuating social norm of young people using condoms
  • To develop a strategy for young people to refuse sex without a condom
  • To remove the barriers of price and availability

Highlights of the solutions developed by #ogilvychange:

I am Vezo
Blue Ventures' existing campaign, called 'Vezo Aho', meaning 'I am Vezo', uses the power of social identity to encourage Vezo communities to use sustainable fishing practices. #ogilvychange expressed the importance of harnessing the powerful message of the ‘I am Vezo’ campaign to promote safer sex as an act of protecting the community, which is after all the responsibility of every Vezo.

The #ogilvychange team developed plans for extending the ‘I am Vezo’ campaign to include communities making a public commitment to pledge to look after their bodies as well as their fishing heritage. Using the power of “priming”, #ogilvychange suggested creating an association between their commitment to Vezo Aho and condom use, cleanliness and social responsibility. This could be done by offering information about condom use and making condoms available at communal washing areas, as well as offering condom holders with the Vezo Aho branding on them to reinforce the message.

Branding idea to support Blue Ventures

Refusing sex without a condom
A campaign concept was developed to make it easier for boys to ask their friends for a condom if they are without one in order to entrench condom use as a healthy norm, and a parallel idea was developed for girls to become more comfortable refusing sex without a condom. These campaigns will be promoted through radio dramatisations, youth clubs and working with influential community members to start new trends.

The cost
Most important is for condoms to be readily available at an affordable price, so as well as advising Blue Ventures to make condoms available for free where that is possible, the #ogilvychange team put forward suggestions for a new pricing structure to sell hormonal pills and condoms together as a combined package so that condoms are not seen as an optional extra, or creating monthly subscription packages for condoms to make their sustained use more automatic. They also suggested that practical demonstrations of how to use condoms should be offered so that young people won’t feel they are wasting money on buying something that they may not know how to use properly.

Turning ideas into action

We caught up with Caroline Savitzky, the health programme coordinator for Blue Ventures based in southwest Madagascar, who is now developing their work based on the input from #ogilvychange. She said, “The recommendations from #ogilvychange are proving extremely helpful, not just for our condom behaviour change communication work but also for Blue Ventures’ overall social marketing and community education strategies.

“We have begun implementing some of the solutions proposed by #ogilvychange, including looking into how to use the idea of having a pledge of commitment to safer sex, linked with a public statement and something physical - either a bracelet, branded t-shirt or condom holder key ring. We are also considering how to most appropriately build on the success of the “Vezo Aho” campaign when working with more ethnically diverse groups through our health programme.

“We are reviewing our condom pricing structure and will be changing our approach to this within our supply chain limits. Practice sessions and free condoms to practice with are now being offered both in outreach clinics and through one-to-one distribution at bars. This has been found to be very popular, and we have two very committed male peer educators and four female community-based distributors providing these services.

“We are rethinking our approach to focus not just on health messages but on the "coolness factor" as #ogilvychange suggested, in order to create a self-perpetuating norm of condom use among young people in our partner communities.”

Currently 98% of these young people lose their virginity without using a condom. If this high percentage can be reduced over time, this will set new precedents for their sexual behaviour and they will be more likely to continue using them in the future.

Blue Ventures will continue to implement the behaviour change solutions proposed by #ogilvychange over the coming months and we will keep you updated on their progress.

If Blue Ventures can use #ogilvychange’s solutions to make the same kind of impact on sexual health through condom use as they have already made with addressing unmet family planning needs through other contraceptives, it will greatly benefit the health and well-being of these coastal people as well the marine environment on which their livelihoods depend.

 

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