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Health News of Friday, 7 June 2019


Sanitation and hygiene advocacy teams schooled on leadership skills

A governance expert has urged community leaders to arm themselves with good leadership skills to get their messages accepted for effective implementation.

Mr Felix Amakye, lecturer at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) in Accra made the call when he addressed members of District Sanitation and Hygiene Advocacy teams (DSHAT) at a meeting at Awutu Beraku in the Central Region.

He defined leadership as a “trait and the ability to exert influence and have others accept their influence to produce change or performance”.

It is also a “process whereby an individual or a small group influences others to achieve a common goal”.

Leadership, he said, was not a position, but could emerge at any level of an organisation, irrespective of whether they were shy, extrovert, educated or not, organised or disorganised, charismatic or dull, and was therefore something that could be learned.

He gave the qualities of good leadership as possessing creativity in action, vision with the courage and fortitude to put the vision into reality, flexibility and commitment to change things for the better, and with ability to back off when someone else was a better leader.

A good leader, Mr. Amakye explained, must be able to delegate, have integrity, make things happen and to stand up for communities, and be accountable.
“In leading people, a good leader must show respect to communities, and understand their cultural norms,” he stated.

Mr Amakye spoke of what constituted good leadership styles such as directing, coaching, supporting and delegating, adding that it was about leading people, commanding people and guiding them.

He touched on constituency building that called for increased ownership, support and responsibility, more cost-effective programming, better response to community needs and concerns, more culturally appropriate strategies and messages, and increased coverage for information and services, and increased advocacy for service and policy change, among others.

The local government expert again touched on community action planning, which he defined as “a process which guides the focusing of ideas and decides the necessary steps towards the attainment of particular goals”.

“This process encompasses what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, by whom and by what resources,” he said, adding that action planning “makes strategic objectives operational”.

Madam Nora Ollennu, Chief Executive Officer for Intervention Forum (IF), said her organisation, together with the stakeholders, were climbing the Advocacy ladder, hence the need for the formation and training of locally-based structures such as citizens groups or advocacy teams to be the voice for the voiceless at the local level.

“To do this, they will need the requisite knowledge base as to how to plan, inform, consult and engage their constituency”, the CEO said.

She said when the people were involved in the decision- making process and well informed, it would help promote transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, active participation and, above all, ownership.

She therefore called on the Municipal/District Sanitation and Hygiene Advocacy Teams (M/DSHATs) to pay critical attention to the training session that focused on leadership and constituency building in their advocacy work towards improving sanitation and hygiene at the local level.

“It takes a strong voice with the application of localised- solution to see the change we are calling for,” she stressed.