Implementing political will: effective leadership in delivering WASH for all

Rhoda Chikanda, 23, speaking on behalf of her community, at Joint Parliamentarian Committee meeting with the people of Kapyanga, Kasungu, Malawi, April, 2017.
Image: WaterAid/Dennis Lupenga

There have been many international commitments made by heads of government to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.  But none of these have triggered the necessary transformational change. This paper identifies the key traits or activities associated with effective leadership from countries that have achieved a step change in sector performance.  These include:

  • Heads of government championing the change agenda
  • Taking a whole-of-government approach
  • Dispersing leadership functions
  • Building in diagnostic and course-correcting mechanisms at all levels of implementation.

The paper also provides an overview of some of the weaknesses associated with traditional donor approaches. And finally, it proposes ways in which official donors and international non-governmental organisations can design programmes that support effective leadership in WASH services.