- 10-year old Butu has to walk every day to reach the nearest well in his community in Nigeria. Millions like him must travel the same long road to get water for drinking, bathing, and washing clothes.
- The Leadership Practice of WBI is helping governments create platforms for collaborative work & in September 2013, more than 50 people from six states of Nigeria came together to work towards the goal of providing better water services to the citizens.
- This initiative was within the framework of Third National Urban Water Sector Reform Project in Nigeria, which aims to increase access to piped water networks in urban areas, and make urban utilities more reliable as well as financially feasible.
November 5, 2013―For many people, perhaps a majority of those who are reading this, drinking a glass of safe water is not a problem. How many steps does it take you to walk to your nearest source of water? Maybe 15 steps if you are at home or probably twice that if you are in your workplace. But, how many steps are in 5 kilometers? The result, about 1,500 steps, is what 10-year old Butu has to walk every day to reach the nearest well in his community in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, millions like Butu have no other choice and must travel the same long road to get water for drinking, bathing, and washing clothes. So that Butu does not have to make this extraordinary effort every day, many people from different institutions have to agree on the best way to respond to his need. The government, the private sector, and the community need to collaborate to identify solutions that address this problem in an effective, efficient, and sustainable fashion for the long term.
And how do we get multiple stakeholders to align their reform agendas so that citizens can receive basic services such as access to water and sanitation? The Leadership Practice of the World Bank Institute (WBI) are helping governments to create platforms for collaborative work. Experience has shown that development problems require not only technical solutions but also ensuring that various individuals, teams, and coalitions work collaboratively toward achieving a complex set of reform objectives.
Many Nigerian water supply and sanitation utilities are locked in a vicious spiral of weak performance, insufficient maintenance funding leading to a deterioration of assets, institutional discrepancies, and high incidences of political interference. This is largely the consequence of poor governance, ineffective and misdirected policies, and the monopolistic nature of the sector. The leadership program with strong support from WBI's Urban Practice enables participants to examine the core issues that confront their utilities in order to develop strategies on how to initiate and sustain reform.
Coming Together for Improved Utility Services
In September 2013, more than 50 people from six states of Nigeria (Bauchi, Cross River, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Lagos, and Rivers) came together to work towards the goal of providing better water services to the citizens. The participants represented an array of stakeholders including state water utilities, state governments, the Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development, state legislatures, the private sector, media, and civil society organizations.
The workshop motivated me to face any difficult task with patience, and I am highly motivated to make it happen at all costs.Workshop participant
The purpose of the week-long workshop was to improve the performance of six multi-stakeholder teams from Nigerian states who are undergoing reforms or will soon begin their reforms under the National Urban Water Sector Reform project. Grounded on principles from adaptive leadership, constraints to collective action, stakeholder analysis, self-mastery, strategic communication, and the rapid results approach, the workshop was designed to help these teams sharpen the vision of their reform, develop clear 11-month goals, and design work plans to achieve those goals.
A Focus on the How
The status of the services for access to safe water in Nigeria is one of the poorest in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 50% of the population in rural areas still lacks access to clean water supplies and it has been historically characterized by the absence of policies that could allow efficient and sustainable services.
During the workshop, participating teams discussed better ways to face this challenge using the adaptive leadership framework in order to distinguish technical problems from adaptive challenges, identify formal and informal authority, and know the importance of interventions to mobilize stakeholders.
Participants reported having a mind shift that helped them to start seeing the previously perceived impossible as possible. As one participant stated, “the workshop motivated me to face any difficult task with patience, and I am highly motivated to make it happen at all costs.” One of the reasons this shift in mindset occurred was improved teamwork. Participants described an increase in “cohesion and team support for the common goal” as well as better “collaboration and synergy” with a greater focus on “achieving for the greater good.” They also referred to stakeholder mapping and the role that strategic communication played in mobilizing and influencing key players to make new strides in the reform. At the conclusion of the workshop, teams left empowered with a newfound knowledge on stress management as well as a detailed 100-day work plan that included clear goals, objectives, and activities to ensure that the momentum was not lost post-workshop.
This initiative was carried out within the framework of the Third National Urban Water Sector Reform Project in Nigeria, a $400 million reform which aims to increase access to piped water networks in urban areas, and make urban utilities more reliable as well as financially feasible. The project covers rehabilitation of treatment facilities, extension, and rehabilitation of distribution networks, increasing the number of household connections and stand posts, updating the customer database, full metering to reduce water loss, and ensuring that billing efficiency is increased.