BRIEF ON THE NATURAL LEADERS NETWORK CONCEPT
During community sanitation sensitization exercises, it is very common to see the emergence of opinion leaders who understand the change message faster and demonstrate willingness to support the process. They are usually referred to as Natural Leaders within the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach. Natural Leaders constitute a group of community level volunteers to provide sanitation and hygiene extension services to their communities. Through their efforts, it becomes easier to mobilize their peers, serve as mentors, provide monitoring service, enforce community-bye laws etc.
In Ghana, the GoG-UNICEF WASH programme has developed a scheme to maximize the impacts of Natural Leaders beyond individual communities to Electoral Area or Area Council Levels. This became necessary as some Natural Leaders had demonstrated ability to prevail on nearby communities to stop open defecation (beyond their own communities). Through the Natural Leaders Networks, Natural Leaders from a common Electoral Area or Area Council are supported to peer-support each other for a faster behaviour change process. The stronger ones are also able to support the weaker ones to achieve success. Through this initiative, a number of communities have been facilitated to stop open defecations, moving success from isolated communities to wider areas.