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Beyond Political Will: Effective leadership for WASH

A joint project between the Development Leadership Program (DLP) and WaterSHED explores the main takeaways from the Civic Champions leadership development program—identified as an innovative approach that delivered measurable results and achieved institutional buy-in at multiple levels.

In June 2021, the DLP organized a webinar to discuss what kind of leadership is needed for effective and inclusive governance in the WASH sector, where leaders come from, and how can they be supported through policy and programming.

Download webinar summary document

There were four key takeaways from the discussion that highlighted the importance of leadership in the sector:

  1. The WASH sector involves highly technical work across multiple ministries and disciplines. Effective leadership is crucial in enabling effective coordination to meet the water security challenge and improve sanitation and hygiene.
  2. While individual action is important, leadership must also operate on collective and societal levels. Users, providers, and WASH experts must collaborate to oversee sustainable reform, rooted in local communities through existing leadership structures.
  3. Successful leadership in WASH goes beyond ‘form’ programming and focuses on ‘function’ – or activities and behaviours. This means moving away from traditional infrastructure-led projects towards locally-led systems-based approaches.
  4. A good WASH program is a good gender program, and promoting female leadership can improve outcomes for sanitation, hygiene, and gender equality.

The DLP is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

View original blog post by the DLP