RTI implemented the USAID/Nigeria Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Development (LEAD) project to achieve collaborative, locally owned solutions for better governance and service delivery in targeted states in Nigeria. Over nine years, our approach focused on empowering and building partnerships between state and local governments, civil society, and the private sector. LEAD interventions took place in the Nigerian states of Bauchi, Sokoto, Rivers, and Kano.
During the project, these Nigerian states saw significant results across the project’s three main objectives, including:
- Strengthening the capacity of state and local governments and increasing transparency of local government operations,
- Increasing the capacity of local organizations, and
- Improving service delivery in basic education and strengthening the health system.
Strengthening Local Institutions, Empowering Local Communities, and Improving Service Delivery through Integrated Governance
LEAD’s interventions in Nigeria demonstrate that integrated governance programming can improve service delivery across sectors, promote systems that are sustainable, and ensure efficient allocation of resources.
The integrated governance approach incorporates inclusive citizen priority setting, civil society engagement, and government accountability with sectoral-focused interventions to create sustainable results. By using this approach, LEAD helped improve key transparency and accountability processes at the state and local government levels, including improved procurement laws, community-based strategic planning, citizen priority setting, service improvement, revenue mobilization plans, and gender-inclusive policies.
Sustainable, Locally Driven Results
To ensure long-term sustainability, LEAD focused on empowering local government officials and Nigerian civil society leaders to develop and disseminate locally developed good practices to solve service delivery issues in their districts.
This focus on empowering local communities and governments helped strengthen engagement between the two groups. An impact assessment by development Research and Projects Center (dRPC) surveyed local government officials, civil society leaders, and community members and found the following benefits:
- LEAD facilitated a shift in the relationship between citizens and local government authorities from one of indifference and disengagement to one of engagement and partnership,
- Citizens felt more informed and engaged, and
- Citizens felt that government transparency and accountability were improved.
Improving and Expanding Public Service Delivery
LEAD’s adherence to its core objectives provided a strong return on investment in the form of sustainable and quantifiable improvements in services. For example, originally, LEAD was tasked to work with local government authorities to drill new boreholes to increase access to water. However, the LEAD team discovered that the lack of access was not because of too few boreholes, but due to improper maintenance of the existing boreholes. LEAD then worked to empower local communities to tackle this problem by training Ward Development Committees on borehole repair and maintenance. Five years later, even after the LEAD project closed, these Committees continue under local leadership.
As a result, more than 600,000 Nigerians gained access to potable drinking water over the life of the project. In 2012 alone, LEAD provided access to potable drinking water to 130,000 people – more than double that year’s goal. These achievements illustrate the importance of adaptive programming, locally owned solutions, and sustainability.
Key LEAD Achievements
Over the life of the nine-year project, LEAD created impactful results, including:
- Enhanced the technical capacity of more than 5,700 government officials at the state and local government levels through technical support, mentoring, and coaching.
- Awarded more than 930 grants to local organizations in Bauchi, Rivers, and Sokoto states that empowered citizens to engage with governments in community priority setting, advocacy, and service delivery planning. This resulted in:
- The health budget increased in Bauchi State to 16% in 2017 from 13.4% in 2016 and in Sokoto to 7.7% in 2017 from 6 percent in 2016.
- The education budget increased from 17 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in 2016 in Sokoto.
- 15 new primary schools in Bauchi State and 8 in Sokoto.
- Recruited and trained over 600 volunteer health workers in Bauchi and Sokoto states to complement shortages of human resources in the health facilities.
- Trained 240 head teachers and 360 Hausa teachers to improve foundational principles of reading skills, benefitting 4,000 students in Bauchi and 6,000 students in Sokoto.
- Through 100 women’s groups supported by LEAD, conducted a house-to-house mobilization on antenatal and neonatal care in five communities in Kano State, resulting in 70% of pregnant women receiving antenatal care in their nearest facility between January and June 2017.
- Trained 180 youth on entrepreneurship in Rivers State resulting in 45 youth establishing small enterprises in the areas of raising poultry, fish farming, and distribution, snail farming, or cassava and vegetable production.
- 600,000 Nigerians gained access to potable drinking water
- Provided support to nearly 1,000 local organizations, giving citizens a platform to engage with their governments to improve service delivery.