Civic Champions

We are proving that local government leadership is the biggest driver towards total sanitation

As WASH markets are taking off, communities that are similar in nearly every way show vastly different results. Some make incredible progress. Others lag behind. Working at scale has given us a vantage point to see what drives these different results:

It isn’t wealth. It isn’t aid.

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.

But can something be done to foster their emergence instead of simply hoping for the best?

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.

See the village chief in Cambodia that inspired our Civic Champions program

Portable Sinks for Healthcare Worker Hand Hygiene in Cambodia

Download the paper: Portable Sinks for Healthcare Worker Hand Hygiene in Cambodia (English) ធុងលាងដៃចល័តសម្រាប់ការលាងសម្អាតដៃបុគ្គលិកថែទាំសុខភាព នៅប្រទេសកម្ពុជា In healthcare facilities, proper handwashing with soap is a critical...
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Capacity building as it should be.

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.

pp increase in sanitation
Toilets sold

The Three Ds:

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.

  • Discover

    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.

  • Develop

    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.

  • Deliver

    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 Scale-up iteration of the program significantly accelerated growth in the sanitation market…reversing a trend of slowing latrine sales.”

Read the full evaluation