Yesterday the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) hosted a webinar to discuss the opportunities and challenges of working with natural leaders in community-led total sanitation activities. A ‘natural’ leader is a person in a community who has formal and informal influence on many people through their social ties and networks. An example of a natural community leader can be a local shop or tradestore owner who has regular contact with most people in the community. Sometimes sanitation projects can focus on formal appointed leadership and unintentionally ignore the opportunities of working with natural community leaders.
The webinar content was based on contributions to a SuSanA forum on natural leaders and CLTS. In WASH, consistent latrine use, hand washing with soap, and point-of-use water treatment are all influenced by persistent social norms, beliefs and attitudes. The SuSanA forum discussed the little available research around social ties and influence and the ability of natural leaders to spark changes in social norms, beliefs and attitudes related to WASH.
Information was presented about the differences between working with natural leaders versus appointed leaders in a community, and some interesting case studies and ideas were shared during the presentation and in the question and answer session that followed the webinar. Over 40 WASH professionals participated in the event. It was also recorded and posted to the SuSanA youtube channel. The first presentation and questions will only take about 20 minutes of your time, so take a break and watch the webinar now!