The Learning Lab - UNICEF Malawi (C4D)

The UNICEF C4D team in Malawi have started an annual Learning Lab initiative to build capacity in new thinking on C4D and social and behaviour change communication, including some focus on RM&E of C4D.

This resource is no longer available online, but the information below may still be of some interest.

It involves government, non-government and other implementing agencies at national, district and community level. The initiative responded to a demand to ensure an evidence-based, strategic and systemic approach to behavior and social change communication based on the application of key human-rights principles – participation, equality, non-discrimination, indivisibility and interdependence. It is a good example of how to embed systems for Developing RM&E capacity, Review R,M&E (meta evaluation) and to support an environment conducive to a critical reflection towards a more Learning-based approach.

The following information was provided to BetterEvaluation by Jessica Noske-Turner as part of the Evaluating C4D Resource Hub.

The Evaluating C4D Resource Hub sits within BetterEvaluation and houses a growing collection of the available guides, toolkits, tools and methods to use for research monitoring and evaluation (R,M&E) of Communication for Development (C4D) initiatives. The Hub is structured around two combined frameworks:

A circle with spokes and a number of graphics set against a rainbow

C4D Evaluation Framework (represented by the circle) is an approach. It describes the values and principles that guide our decisions in C4D.

The BetterEvaluation Rainbow Framework (represented by the rainbows) is a structure. It organises the practical tasks into seven categories or 'clusters' and provides options.

While the resource recommendation below discusses the resource specifically in relation to its usefulness for evaluating C4D within the Evaluating C4D Resource Hub's C4D Framework, this resource may also be of use for people working in other contexts and with different frameworks.

Authors and their affiliation

UNICEF Malawi, Change Makers

Key features

The Learning Lab is based on a workshop format with participatory and learner-centred approaches including group discussions, interactive games, lecture methods, field visits, participatory research and plenary discussions. As of October 2016, three Learning Labs had been conducted. 

  • The first Learning Lab (mid-2015) focused on human rights based approaches to shift current thinking into more strategic and systemic evidence based approach leading to behavior and social change. 
  • The second (late-2015) aimed at defining key planning and implementation principles, demonstrating how C4D tools and techniques are being applied in line with SEM at individual, community, organizational and institutional levels.
  • The third (mid 2016) had a focus on increasing the evidence of C4D value, with a focus on R,M&E, C4D in emergencies, and social mobilization.

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

This resource has been identified as part of a research project in collaboration with UNICEF C4D. The Learning Labs are a useful model for engaging colleagues and partners in critical reflection toward capacity building and learning.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

The Learning Lab model is consistent with the C4D Evaluation Framework in the following ways:

  • Participatory: the Learning Lab brings together a range of partners with an outside facilitator, with workshop methods and techniques designed to promote open, inclusive participation, voice and listening.
  • Learning-based: The Learning Labs are intended to build the capacity of UNICEF staff and partners, not only through skills and knowledge but also through systems strengthening. 
  • Critical: The Learning Labs provide time and space to critically reflect on strengths and weaknesses of C4D as a whole, including the RM&E systems for C4D. 
  • Realistic: The Learning Labs are held semi-regularly on a needs and opportunity basis. They are not too often that they become a strain on workloads, but not too infrequently that the gains are lost. 


Ken Limwame, The Third Malawi C4D Learning Lab Training Report.

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