Approaches >

ABC (Assisting Behaviour Change)

Full name

Assisting Behaviour Change.


The ABC approach was developed by Action Against Hunger to address weaknesses in programmes that focused heavily on awareness raising, education, addressing barriers and optimising enablers as a way of encouraging
behaviour change.

Sector/behaviour focus

WASH, Nutrition & Health, Care Practices, Food Security & Livelihoods, Disaster Risk Reduction.

Focus within the process

ABC is organised in 10 steps that cover all stages of the process, with a strong focus on formative research. It presents a range of behaviour-change activities, but does not provide detailed guidance on designing an intervention based on these activities or on developing other activities.

What’s special

ABC takes an open and flexible approach to behaviour change, based on a strong foundation of theory. It’s not a recipe for designing a behaviour-change intervention, but an overall process with tools and resources that can be adapted to different contexts and behavioural challenges. The approach is based on a philosophy of assisting and accompanying change through participatory analysis, design and implementation. Behaviour-change activities are presented as an integrated aspect of AAH’s interventions, and not as a separate component or a stand-alone project.

Supporting BC theories

Health Belief Model // Protection Motivation Theory // Theory of Reasoned Action // Stages of Change Model // Social Psychology Models.

Time required

The time required for completing the ABC process is variable. The formative-research (analysis) component may take from 4 to 6 weeks. The design process may take another week.

Expertise required

The approach can be managed overall by a project manager, but requires someone with social-science research skills to design and carry out the formative research in the analysis phase and to support development of behaviour-change activities in the design phase. These activities can then be managed by dedicated staff within the project or programme. Some activities, such as mass-media productions, may need to be contracted out to specialists.

Training materials

There are no specific training materials provided in the ABC approach. Barrier analysis is frequently a key tool for formative research. Barrier-analysis training is available.


English and French.

Case studies and examples

Specific case studies or examples have not been included.



Analysis of way of life and current practices
Develop an understanding of the context and the reference points of the population, Identify current practices, the meaning of these practices, and their consequences on the community and on individuals’ lives.
Analysis of community perception of the problemDetermine how people perceive what we consider to be the problem, whether it is perceived as a problem or just as a new event, and whether it is perceived as a temporary or a lasting event.
Analysis of causal attributionIdentify and analyse the causes attributed to the problem. Determine whether the causes are considered by people to be internal or external. Identify what explanations and meanings are given to these causes by different people in the population.
Analysis of change phaseIdentify if the population is already in a process of change and, if so, at which stage they are and who / what resources may be involved in facilitating the change process.
Analysis of behaviour and its determinantsUse an appropriate behaviour-change model, or models, to identify and analyse the various factors that influence the behaviour.
Analysis of barriers, benefits and resources for BC processDescribe the barriers (practical, social, cultural, psychological etc.) identified by people that are an obstacle to the process of change. Identify the benefits of change already perceived. Determine the groups and the change factors that can facilitate the process. Establish what is known about the benefits and barriers.


Design the programme, taking into consideration the data collected in the analysis phase: approach and activities.

Implementation, monitoring and evaluation

Support the process of changeAdapt the intervention according to the population's progression through the stages of change (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance).
Sustaining behaviour change – ritualizationSupport the maintenance of new behaviours by ensuring they become established within existing cultural and traditional values. Ensure a phase of transition and ritualization to maintain BC. Plan and establish a (self) monitoring system.
Evaluation of the BC processEvaluate the behaviour-change process and the changed behaviour, with suitable indicators and measurement processes.