Local Government Leadership in Sanitation and Hygiene: Experiences and Learnings from West Africa

SLH Learning Briefs 11
February 2022

Between July and October 2021, the Sanitation Learning Hub worked with government representatives and development partners to develop, share, and cross-analyse case studies looking at local system and government strengthening in four local government areas across West Africa: Benin (N’Dali commune), Ghana (Yendi municipal district), Guinea (Molota commune), and Nigeria (Logo LGA).

The initiative focused on examples of local leadership in sanitation and hygiene (S&H), with case studies developed in collaboration with development partners (Helvetas in Benin, UNICEF in Ghana and Guinea, United Purpose in Nigeria) and the local governments they partner with.

The goal was to cross-analyse examples of local government leadership in S&H, looking at what led to the prioritisation of S&H, and identifying commonalities and transferable knowledge through a participatory cross-learning process. The case studies identified positive change occurred in local government leadership in S&H, and analysed the contributions to change, via document review, key informant interviews and focus group discussions.

This learning brief shares the learnings and recommendations that emerged from the case studies and through the three participatory workshops that followed.

An overview of the case studies was presented in an AfricaSan 6 session, available to watch online here. You can contact us on [email protected] if you would like a copy of the case studies in PowerPoint presentation format.

Watch the webinar on the findings here:

Key recommendations

  • Consider ‘institutional triggering’ and ‘healthy’ competition, pride and reputation.
  • Encourage written commitments, civil society involvement, peer-review mechanisms and roadmaps agreed by state-level or central governments.
  • Ringfence budgets and pass by-laws.
  • Encourage better interplay with multiple stakeholders such as development partners and technocrats, civil society organisations, but also stakeholders from other fields such as education.
  • Involve multiple levels of government in development partner work, and capture and share learning across different local areas.
  • Consider a variety of context-appropriate financing models, including income-generating activities and solidarity mechanisms for those in need.
  • Prioritise equity and inclusion in planning and decision-making.
  • Consider an area-wide approach to expand sanitation and hygiene programming.

Additional details

PublisherInstitute of Development Studies
RegionWestern Africa
CountryBenin, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria
ThemesGovernment leadership, Leave no one behind, Monitoring, evaluation and learning, National and sub-national monitoring systems
ApproachesContext specific and adaptive approaches, Learning approaches

Melloni, G. (2022) ‘Local government leadership in sanitation and hygiene: experiences and learnings from West Africa’, SLH Learning Brief 11, The Sanitation Learning Hub, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI 10.19088/SLH.2022.001


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