We learned that the key driver is having a councilor in local government who demonstrates initiative and action versus having one who believes nothing will ever change. In fact, we see local leadership as the biggest driver of sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Turns out, yes. Not only yes, our program to cultivate local leadership behaviours is the most impactful component of our work to build sustainable markets for WASH. And it is a key element of our plan to exit the market. These leaders are Civic Champions.
Civic Champions is an intensive program to foster the emergence of transformational leaders. It stands apart from conventional capacity development programs.
Elected officials apply to join, pay to participate, and drive the process themselves. Through iterative cycles of Discover, Develop, Deliver, participants learn to create a vision for community development with their constituents, develop a plan of action, and execute against it.
Competitive, peer-determined awards combined with high-level government recognition serve as powerful incentives for participants to excel. From pilot to scale, the program is generating outstanding, tangible results.
A key innovation in the process is that workshop facilitators are recruited from within provincial-level government. This may sound unextraordinary, but it’s almost never done.
Our aim is not to scale up an NGO-led capacity development program, but instead to institutionalize leadership development across multiple levels of government. We see this objective as pretty much the endgame of development initiatives.
A series of training workshops to build the foundation for councilors to succeed in developing their communities. Over nine months, participants learn and exchange new ideas to build a development strategy that is aggressive but achievable.
Between conferences, participants put what they learn into practice – building relationships with customers and suppliers to drive the market for water, sanitation, and hygiene. One-on-one and team coaching is provided to ensure success.
Because improving sanitation is presented as the “leadership challenge”, this approach uniquely allows an apples-to-apples comparison of each participant’s leadership progress.
Participants present the changes in sanitation, their successes, and challenges to the group. Top performers are selected by their peers and celebrated, providing strong motivation for other councilors as the next cycle of Discover, Develop, Deliver begins.
“The study has found that the project has made a substantial contribution to improving participants’ leadership capacity and increasing sanitation coverage in their communities.”