Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

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  • dietvorst
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Re: Summary of discussion week 2, theme 2: Lack of leadership for change around sanitation

This thematic discussion focused on how to move towards with respect to sustainable urban sanitation. The discussions were organised around two areas: 1) addressing the entire sanitation chain and the need to embrace systemic change; and 2) the role (or lack of) of local governments and its leaders to drive the required change.

The discussion on the SuSanA forum was organised from 13 to 23 October 2015. During the second week we had a total of 15 contributions, some more substantive than others around the following guiding questions:
  1. How crucial is the role of local leaders? Is it possible to achieve sustainable improvements in sanitation in the absence of strong leadership and local ownership?

  2. What role can development partners play to nurture and develop local leadership? Are they playing their role as triggerers, catalysts and supporters? Is it enough?

  3. How to move forward in areas where local leadership and local ownership are absent?
Boorso started the discussion off by stating that even in states like Somalia where there is no strong leadership for the past two decades the role of achieving sustainable sanitation can be successful. The cited the example of Gedo region where WASH committees, selected by local leadership among the community, were established in every main village and district.
Martaede mentioned that without local leadership a change in sanitation is like a pipe dream. He felt that leadership needs to be a direct expression of grass roots needs.

Egelkhuu cited not so much the issue of leadership but rather the need of funding. He used the example of leadership in his province Bayanchandmani, Mongolia where the population of villages are increasing rapidly. The issue of proper leadership and funding around sanitation is a real issue outside of the fact of dealing with harsh climates in these areas.

Giacomo Galli came up with an interesting set of comments to further enlighten the discussion. In his opinion local leaders are extremely important to have on board. However, these need not necessarily only be the 'official' leaders; they could also be respected members of the community. Without the support and active involvement of these leaders, the improvements if any, will only be temporary. In terms of the role that development partners can play to nurture and develop local leadership, he stated that we need to recognise that 'doing good for the community' is not necessarily the sole motivator of a leader. Important motivators could be related to retaining or increasing local power and control, or to financial needs. Local leaders may be influenced by dealing with development partners in the past and be disillusioned by these previous experiences and or frustrated by past projects. On the issue of how to move forward in areas where local leadership and local ownership are absent, he cited that he did not believe there is such a thing as an absence of local leadership: “open your eyes and look again”. It may not be the leadership we prefer, but it's the one we will have to work with. He was also wondering whether lack of ownership may have been caused by focusing on “selling” our solutions instead of addressing the local needs.

Snel raised two issues in line with these points, namely: 1) the role of local leadership is not only a formal one, as cited by Giacomo, but more often than not an informal role of selected leadership which determines the progress that take place; and 2) there are still a number of implementing NGOs and other parties claiming to work with local leadership but in reality this may be more like a lip service than a sincere commitment.

The issue of rural and/or urban context was cited with Hajo noting that village settings and rural sanitation where 'informal' leadership may sometimes be more relevant than 'formal' leadership, while in towns there is always a mayor or municipal director 'in charge'. He mentioned that leadership may be lacking due to a lack of interest in sanitation but wondered whether large scale action in sanitation can be promoted with the use of 'informal' leaders’. Responding to this contribution, Giacomo cited that formal leadership does not exclude informal leadership as the latter may be very powerful.

Based on his experiences in an urban faecal sludge management programme in Bangladesh, Rezaip recognised four different actor groups when it comes to leadership in urban sanitation: national government, local authorities, communities and private sector. Although sanitation has a low(er) priority, the leaders can prioritise FSM by linking it to other priorities such as agriculture. Whereas the role of national government comes in the form of formulating Policies and Guidelines, the (political) dynamics are completely different at the local level. He gave an example of how politics (the need to appease the electorate) may influence local decision making and the role projects should play to inform the decision makers. In addition to the more formal leadership role of local authorities, community leaders can play an important role in raising awareness and mobilising communities. In the project the community leaders were crucial in mobilising manual pit emptiers to attend training on FSM occupational health and safety measures. He also stated that local entrepreneurs and investors should take up leadership roles but that they were hard to be found in the absence of solid business opportunities. However, interest among this group is growing. Finally he cited the absence of leadership at national as well as local level in areas such as enforcement of existing laws.

Scott replied that in the case of China local leaders are very important as they have made it possible to install UDDTs (urine-diverting dry toilet) at schools whereas these types of ecological toilets are actually not included in the national standards.

Nivedita cited that the role of local leader is very important as it falls within their remit and they can act as implementing agency. Local authorities play a crucial role in terms of finance and operation and maintenance. She suggested that in the absence of local leadership, support could be taken over by NGOs.

The final contribution came from Esther Silas, Director for Touching The Untouchables (TTU) citing her experience in sanitation and hygiene in Papua New Guinea. She noted that local leaders were crucial to drive change in sanitation but that in the absence of local leaders they would work with local champions. TTU recognises champions as people who hear and understand the sanitation messages and implement the activities with little or no supervision at all. For TTU the development of local leaders and champions is through consistent monitoring and mentoring and providing incentives and words of encouragement.

Marielle Snel, Senior expert, IRC
Cor Dietvorst
Information Manager
Programme Officer | IRC
+31 70 304 4014 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | www.ircwash.org
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  • Nivedita
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

Hi Esther Silas,

I looked into both the methodology,will try that.thank for the advice.I also saw one of the document in Henganofi district of Papua New Guinea under World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program. This document describes your effort for making rural areas ODF.I want to congratulate you for such a good deed. Kindly also elaborate the process of involving local government as here in India, it is difficult to involve them.

Regards,
Nivedita

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  • Esther
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

Hello Nivedita

My name is Esther Silas and I work with Touching The Untouchables here in Henganofi district of Papua New Guinea.

There is solution to your problem, I recommand you use the PHAST and CLTS training. Please look it up on the internet this trainings will solve your problems.

Cheers and wish you well :)
Esther
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  • Esther
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

Hello and warm greetings, This is Esther Silas and I am the Director for Touching The Untouchables (TTU).

As per the our (TTU) experience in sanitation, hygiene and safe motherhood activities in Henganofi district of Papua New Guinea.

The 'local leadership to drive Change in Sanitation' in our experience it is local leaders are crucial to drive change in sanitation. In the absence of local leaders there are champions. TTU recognises champions as people who hears and understand the sanitation messages snd implements the sanitation activitiies with little or no supervision at all.

For TTU developing local leaders is through consistent monitoring and mentoring and providing in incentives and words of encouragement of the initatives by the leaders/champions. This encourges the leaders and the champions to continue on the sanitation work.

TTU plays the facilitation part. TTU has no direct contribution to the change in sanitation in the community. It is the leaders/champions and the community who initiate and drive the change.

Thirdly to move forward in areas where local leaders and absent. We have the champions. Work with the champions. Secondly work with the health workers, teachers, pastors, priest or any representatives institutions who are working in the community.

Finally I have attached news letters as our reference.

Cheers :)
Esther

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  • Nivedita
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

Hi All,
I am working for improving the snaitation facilities for the poor people, specially for the slum dwellers. we are also trying to aware school children for the regarding the imporatnce of washing hands by using soaps. Also,we are envolving school teachers and parents and also the school adminstration.But neither the local authority,school authority and local people are participating in the campaign. Neither the users nor the infrastructure providers are co operating and the disappointing thing is that people are not bothered about the consequences.I would like to ask any suggestions regarding how to generate the awareness among the users and also how to involve local authority into this..

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  • Nivedita
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

Hi All,
The raised questions are really important and relavant to make change in the saniataion sector. Yes,the role of local leader is very important as they act as implementing agency and it is their responsibility too. they provide finance and other operations for the same.
the local authority play cruical role of supporters in terms of finance and operation and maintaince, with the help of other organiations like NGOs.
in areas where the local leadership is absent, support could be taken from the NGOs as we have seen in many areas like Community Led Total Sanitation.

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  • scottchen
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

Dear Colleagues,
Yes,the local leaders are very important in urban Sanitation,especially in China.
The school toilet must meet the national standard which is still against the ecological toilet.
Without the permit from the local government leaders,no UDDTs can be built within China.
best wishes
Scott
The general manager of SHEN ZHEN BLUE WATERS AND GREEN MOUNTAINS LTD , the sole importer of Separett AB waterless toilets in China.
Chen Xiang Yang, an apple dealer,is growing apples and cherries with the human waste collected from 31 school UDDTs donated by SOHO China Foundation, based in Tianshui City, Gansu Province , China. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel:0086 151 9380 3972

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  • rezaip
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

I see leadership in urban sanitation and faecal sludge management (FSM) coming from four different actor groups: one of them is the national government and the three others: local authorities, communities and private sector. Sanitation, particularly FSM, has a somewhat weaker role (e.g. non-visibility to the voters) while pursuing ‘political assets’ in emerging economies. In terms of priorities, it comes after agricultural productivity and subsidies (directly linked to food price), healthcare, housing and so on to national political leadership. However, it’s again the leadership that can prioritize FSM, linking them to other priorities e.g. resource recovered from FS can feed on farming activities as organic input being an excellent source of soil conditioning and nutrition; greater awareness on water-seal, FS spillage and safe discharge can prevent diseases and malnutrition; and upgradation of toilets and/or containments and proper housing plan can facilitate easier collection, transportation and / or processing of FS.

The role of national government, in most cases, comes in the form of formulating Policies and later, Guidelines. The Gates-funded FSM project managed by SNV in Bangladesh made a success in adding FSM clause in national water and sanitation policy in Bangladesh. The next comes officials in related Departments under the Ministries. Endorsements from all of these actors are crucial to success at the national and eventually local level implementation.

But the dynamics are completely different at the local level (local authorities). Interestingly, we find that local level sanitation tax (a fraction of the wealth tax) would be a smart way to pay for FSM services but what if the wealth at local level is heavily undervalued. The leadership in question here may now come with a solution to whether instead of collecting sanitation tax (which would be too little to offer anything in return), the authority would rather allow private operators to collect periodic / one-off fees to offer FSM services in exchange to the city-dwellers. This appears a little less sensitive to the local authorities, in a sense that people can just not confront them to get an explanation why the fees have been raised etc. etc. We have been advocating for revising the prices to reflect cost since the beginning of the programme and it started happening lately that the concerned officials and local representative within the concerned city authorities are now showing a sense of understanding and interest to revise it for the greater fees for the service to be charged. There now we see the leadership among the councillors and the city officials without whom this consensus would not have been reached.

So, does local leadership belong to the local authorities only? Not really! We found some excellent community leaders who shoulder the enthusiasm and responsibilities to mobilize the community to make themselves aware of FSM. The FS spillage protocol made the community aware of the severe health risks getting in contact with the sludge. Community leaders were also crucial in our effort to promote occupational health and safety. Looking closely at the traditional manual emptying jobs getting inside the containment by primarily Dalit communities in the Indian sub-continent, Bangladesh is perhaps one of the first places to document occupational health and safety measures for the emptiers. We found the community leaders’ here were crucial in mobilizing the emptiers for the training which in future is likely to lead certification of the emptiers as observant of FSM occupational health and safety measures.

One last but not the least, local leadership lies in the hands of the entrepreneurs and investors. Unlike the rest of the leaders, business leaders are hard to be found – they look for solid business fundamentals! But even after all this, we see local entrepreneurs interested to offer CSR fund as a first attempt to contribute to establishing commercially viable public toilets. The project is experimenting whether businesses based on solid waste collection that are contracted by the local authorities can be trained and groomed up to add a new service line – FS collection and transportation.

There are still some areas where leadership is absent. Here, we have the laws with punitive actions against households / institutions that have connected their containments to municipal drains. Question is, when there is hardly any implementation of those laws nationally, how we would find a leader facilitating the enforcement of those laws nationally, as well as, locally. Enforcement of these laws would instantly make a range of FSM businesses commercially viable overnight. Development projects also face the challenges in nurturing leadership. Sometimes we see the officials / councillors we promoted as leaders and advocates of change get their offices changed / transferred and thus find themselves at odds to remain so.
Reza Patwary
WaSH Business Advisor

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  • ggalli
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

Dear Hajo,

I completely agree that maybe in an urban setting the formal leadership may be better established, but:
1) which institutional level to take into account? Only the mayor, or all the heads of wards etc?
2) formal leadership does not exclude informal leadership, these two may well co-exist. While working in a slum of Mumbai I noticed that the local informal leaders are very powerful are really need to be taken into account.

Best,
Giacomo
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  • hajo
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

dear all,

I am not really sure but I feel that we have to differentiate in this discussion between the urban and rural context. The topic has been opened relating to leadership in urban sanitation although the header unfortunately does not express it.

But while reading the posts, I felt that contributors related more to village settings and rural sanitation where 'informal' leadership may be sometimes more relevant than 'formal' leadership, while in towns there is always a mayor or municipal director 'in charge'.

S/he may not be interested in sanitation and as such 'leadership' in this field is lacking but it may be difficult to promote action in sanitation in a town on larger scale using 'informal' leaders, or?

ciao Hajo
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  • snel
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

Glad to see more of a debate emerging especially in these busy times with upcoming WASH conferences and other WASH related work. Based on my own experiences, and coming from an urban & regional planning background, to me the role of local leaders is absolutely critical in making any step forward in the whole systemic change in reflecting on sustainable urban sanitation services. Three points: (1) The role of local leadership is not only a formal one, as cited by Giacomo, but more often than not an informal role of selected leadership which determines the progress that take place. (2) What surprises me in this time and age is that there are still a number of implementing NGOs and other parties working on their programmes stating they are working with local leadership (whether formal and/or informal) but in reality this is more lip service than sincere commitment. (3) In countries such as India and Ethiopia, in which I have had the opportunity to work in quite often over the years, the role of formal local leadership is much higher than other countries based on various factors ranging from historical to socio-political reasons. I appreciated hearing from our WDC colleague and would love to hear from some of our other southern colleagues (or others) on their experiences/examples were this has worked well or not, and why?

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  • ggalli
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Re: Introduction to Theme 2: Local Leadership to Drive Change in Sanitation

Dear all,

Interesting questions.

1) How crucial is the role of local leaders? Is it possible to achieve sustainable improvements in sanitation in the absence of strong leadership and local ownership?

This is a rather rhetorical question.
Local leaders are extremely important to have on board. However, these need not necessarily only be the 'official' leaders. They could also be respected members of the community. Without the support and active involvement of these leaders, the improvements, if there are any, will only be temporary.

2) What role can development partners play to nurture and develop local leadership? Are they playing their role as triggerers, catalysts and supporters? Is it enough?

Here it starts to get interesting. I think that development partners need to recognise that:
A) 'doing good for the community' is not necessarily the sole motivator of a leader. Important motivators could be related to retaining or increasing local power and control, or to financial needs. It is therefore important to understand these 'motivators' and realise where they can be an obstacle or a stimulus;
B ) where there is one 'development partner' there are usually more, or there have been others before. Local leaders may appear involved, but in fact just going from workshop to workshop. Or they may be disillusioned by previous experiences and frustrate a project. Taking mutual accountability serious at the local level is therefore important.

3) How to move forward in areas where local leadership and local ownership are absent?

Here it starts to get a bit worrying.
A) I do not believe there is such a thing a an absence of local leadership. The world is not a tabula rasa that can be filled in by development projects. I'd like to think that those days are over. If you honestly think there is a lack of leadership, open your eyes and look again. It may not be the leadership you like, but it's the one you'll have to work with.
B)Local ownership by the people of your project may be absent. In that case, you may not be addressing their needs. Who is being consulted and involved? Did your project look for a a problem to match your solution, or was it the other way around?

Best,
Giacomo
Giacomo Galli

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