At the Centre for Social and Behaviour Change (CSBC), 2021 has been about growth, reflection, and conscious engagement with partners who will help us drive impact.
Since its inception, CSBC has been dedicated to expanding and sharing knowledge and underscoring the role of behavioural science in designing effective public policies. We have endeavoured to pursue a coordinated and collaborative approach that fosters innovation, agency, and community, to advance behavioural science in India. The year 2021 was a step ahead in that direction.
The Centre for Social and Behaviour Change set up India’s first nudge unit, called the Behavioural Insights Unit (BIU) at NITI Aayog, with an embedded team in the CEO’s office to design behaviourally-informed interventions across policy sectors. The unit evaluated interventions for antenatal care services, iron-folic acid supplementation, complementary feeding, and immunisation.
At the state level, we set up BIUs in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to advance research and learning, design novel behavioural interventions, improve on-ground indicators, and build capabilities.
We also instituted a Behavioural Design & Impact Lab to generate evidence-driven and behaviourally-informed solutions and build foundational knowledge on behavioural design.
CSBC entered into an academic partnership with the Centre for Decision Research (CDR) at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Together, we will conduct innovative cross-cultural research, test behavioural interventions in the field, collect and analyse high-quality datasets, and refine best practices for behavioural science data collection.
COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy has been a salient issue this year, and we explored meaningful academic projects to understand it in India’s context. For example, we leveraged the Global COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey (CTIS) by the University of Maryland to identify seven vaccine hesitancy personas in India and the main reasons for vaccine hesitancy in each. Our objective was to recommend personalised behavioural interventions to reduce hesitancy.
We also won competitive funding from the Sabin Vaccine Institute's Social and Behavioural Research Grants Program to study vaccine hesitancy in rural Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
In partnership with JEEViKA, CSBC supported a behavioural science-informed solution to increase vaccine coverage in rural Bihar. We identified the reasons for vaccine hesitancy, classified strategies based on vaccine perceptions, and designed social and behaviour change materials to promote mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing. These materials were used by more than 10 lakh self-help groups in Bihar.
Purposeful research is integral to our goal of advancing behaviour science in India. CSBC has partnered with the Northern Railways for a research project to identify interventions to make station platforms and train coaches mindful and clean spaces and improve cleanliness and sanitation outcomes.
We hope that the agility, resilience, and determination we have fostered this year will help us amplify this impact in the time to come.