SNV-Upward Spiral behaviour change hub partnership

Bridging the gap between the ‘science’ and ‘practice’ of behaviour change programming in WASH and COVID responses.

Bangladesh,Bhutan,Lao PDR,Mozambique,Tanzania


While the science of behaviour change and design has improved significantly over the last two decades, learning and practice has yet to be utilised to the full extent by development practitioners. This gap in learning leads to resource inefficiencies and lost time and opportunities for social change.

In 2020, SNV deepened its ongoing partnership with Upward Spiral in search of an innovative way for more effective WASH-related behaviour change intervention design and capacity strengthening across multiple countries. Within this partnership, Upward Spiral first introduced the concept of a Behaviour Change Hub: a concept that SNV implemented in Asia and Africa during 2020-22, initially with a focus on WASH behaviour, and a second one with a focus on COVID behaviours.

Together, the partners are working towards bridging the gap between the ‘science’ and ‘practice’ of behaviour change design.

What is meant by a behaviour change hub?

The behaviour change hub offers an expert central support (hub) to diverse organisational teams (spokes) working on behaviour challenges. Guided by the central support and a common framework, teams undergo a structured cycle of intervention design, implementation, and evaluation.

The hub can utilise any robust framework for designing behaviour change interventions. For the hub implemented by SNV with support from Upward Spiral in 2020-22, the partners used the Behaviour Centred Design framework developed by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

What are the hub’s benefits?

Organising and working as a hub for behaviour change improves effectiveness of interventions, optimises use of resources, strengthens organisational capacities, and reduces carbon footprint.

  • Improved effectiveness: A common approach rooted in behaviour science (Behaviour Centred Design), but informed by local knowledge and expertise, can help design robust interventions.

  • Optimised resources: Central support increases efficiency and collective learning and reduces duplication of efforts. When teams are working on the same behaviours, in lock-step, there is greater efficiency as many tools can be shares e.g., research guides and design briefs.

  • Strengthened organisational capacity: Learning by doing, at the different stages of the process, takes the best of behaviour change theory and makes it practical and relevant, as it is applied to each specific context. Besides, working with peers who speak a common language and follow the same design process, makes it easier for teams to share and learn.

  • Reduced carbon footprint: Strong online support and facilitation throughout significantly reduces the need for international travel.

Several SNV countries participated in the 2020-22 hub collaboration, each having a specific thematic and behaviour focus.

The modality of working through a hub has been well received so far, and early signs suggest that participation in the hub has facilitated positive outcomes. Meanwhile, for Upward Spiral, the hub that it conceived continues to evolve based on learnings garnered from its partnership with SNV.

SNV countries partaking in the WASH hub

SNV country teams in the WASH hub

SNV countries partaking in the COVID-19 hub

SNV country teams in the COVID-19 hub

For more information

[1] The hub approach is not limited to the WASH sector or any organisation and may be applied wherever common behaviour change challenges are shared across multiple countries and contexts. Contact Upward Spiral's Balaji Gopalan or Nipa Desai.

[2] To learn more about SNV’s ongoing partnership with Upward Spiral and SNV country-specific experiences with the hub, contact Gabrielle Halcrow.

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