Local government leadership for area-wide sanitation and hygiene

In many contexts, responsibility for delivering sanitation and hygiene improvements sits with local governments (also occasionally referred to as sub-national governments). Local government leadership is recognised as key to ensuring sustainability and scale and it is an important component of the emerging use of systems strengthening approaches in the sanitation and hygiene sector.

With this in mind, we have been convening local government officials and development agencies to cross-analyse examples of local government leadership for sanitation and hygiene, drawing out lessons and challenges. Our overarching objectives for this work are:

  • To understand the enablers, and barriers to local government taking on leadership or prioritising sanitation more highly.
  • To raise awareness of the topic as an area of work and something that deserves attention.

Initially we conducted research in East and West Africa, holding virtual regional participatory workshops and developing case studies to understand the enablers and barriers to local government taking on leadership or prioritising sanitation more highly. We have since shared this work at conferences and other events to generate momentum and start conversations on the topic with the wider sector. PowerPoints from the West Africa case studies are available on request ([email protected]).

Our emerging findings from East and West Africa include:

  • Building and maintaining political will was a common challenge, particularly at times of political transition but: positive examples of securing public, written commitments to sanitation and passing by-laws enshrining plans were identified.
  • Monitoring, reporting and using data strategically was important for securing and maintaining sub-national leadership and prioritisation of sanitation in both rounds. Monitoring data was used to trigger discussions and foster political will, to inform programme design, and to advocate for resources.
  • Resourcing sanitation was a challenge at sub-national level but there were examples of developing policies to increase the range of budgets sanitation funding could be drawn from which helped increase resourcing.
  • Beyond aiming for community-wide outcomes, ways to ensure sub-national government reaches everyone with improved sanitation were identified as a vital but significant gap across all countries.

Watch partners present findings from Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Mali


East Africa:

  • Siaya County, Kenya – with UNICEF
  • Nyamagabe District, Rwanda – with WaterAid
  • Moyo District, Uganda – with WSSCC (now called the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund)

West Africa:

  • N’Dali commune, Benin – with Helvetas
  • Yendi municipal, Ghana – with UNICEF
  • Logo Local Government Authority, Nigeria – with United Purpose
  • Molota and Daramagnaki communes, Guinea – with UNICEF
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