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Leadership development programming in rural Cambodia: Motivations and characteristics of leaders

01 June 2022

Understanding leaders’ motivations and characteristics is vital to improving the services people need to live healthy and fulfilling lives, such as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). In Cambodia, a leadership development programme, WaterSHED’s Civic Champions, offered locally-elected leaders (commune councillors) support to improve their leadership skills and develop strategies to improve WASH in their communes.

What can we learn from this successful programme about the resources, characteristics and motivations leaders need to pursue developmental change?

This paper draws on a quasi-experimental study combining survey data and in-depth interviews to assess the leadership and sanitation promotion capacities of commune councillors who participated in the 2018/19 cohort of the Civic Champions programme and those who did not.

Understanding and experience (‘embeddedness’) as well as trust developed over time and through public service improves leadership. Findings show that leaders across both study groups shared motivations and a commitment to public service. However, those who participated in Civic Champions were more confident in using their leadership skills and improved their capacity to promote WASH effectively.

Check out the companion report to this, Strengthening local leadership for sustainable sanitation promotion: Evidence from the WASH sector in rural Cambodia.

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