Following widespread decentralisation reforms, including across Africa, responsibility for sanitation and hygiene (S&H) often sits with sub-national governments.
For some time, local government leadership has been recognised as key to ensuring sustainability and scale and it is an important component of the emerging use of systems strengthening approaches in the S&H sector.
From late 2020 to early 2021, the Sanitation Learning Hub collaborated with local government actors and development partners from three sub-national areas to explore ways of increasing local government leadership and prioritisation of sanitation and hygiene (S&H) to drive progress towards area-wide S&H. It is hoped that this work will provide practical experiences to contribute to this thinking.
Case studies were developed to capture local government and development partners’ experiences supporting sub-national governments increase their leadership and prioritisation of S&H in Siaya County (Kenya, with UNICEF), Nyamagabe District (Rwanda, with WaterAid) and Moyo District (Uganda, with WSSCC), all of which have seen progress in recent years.
The cases were then explored through three online workshops with staff from the local governments, central government ministries and development partners involved to review experiences and identify levers and blockages to change. This document presents key findings from this process.
This is part of the Sanitation Learning Hub's Learning Brief series.
Government leadership at both the national and sub-national levels is an essential step towards ensuring safely managed sanitation services for all. Though the importance of sub-national government leadership for water, sanitation and hygiene is widely acknowledged, to date much of the focus has been on the delivery of water services.
This article sets out to start to address this imbalance by focusing on practical ways to galvanise and foster sub-national government leadership for sanitation programming. By focusing on the experiences across three sub-national areas in East Africa (in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya) where positive changes in the prioritisation of sanitation by local governments have been witnessed, we (a group of researchers, local government representatives and development partner staff) cross-examine and identify lessons learnt.
The results presented in this paper and subsequent discussion provide practical recommendations for those wishing to trigger a change in political will at the local level and create the foundation to strengthen sanitation governance and the wider system needed to ensure service delivery for all.