Local Champions can be families, individuals, community or religious leaders who are influential in the community and whose hygiene behaviours can be perceived as positive examples to other community members. Community ‘Champions’ can help to promote positive behaviours and act as a bridge between service providers and the community.
Few people make decisions or perform actions without considering the opinions and views of those in their social network. Exactly who has the most influence depends on both the individual and the culture of the community. For example, in some societies the mother-in-law is particularly influential; in others, it may be the elders, including uncles. Influential people in a community can become the champions of a specific cause. People’s response to issues depends on who they can trust and whose opinions they respect. In the field of hygiene promotion (HP) champions can be people who have improved their sanitation or who regularly practise hygiene measures and are pleased with the results. They are often the best people to explain the benefits to others. Local Champions can help deepen understanding of how people think and what works best for the community.
Local Champions can be useful in all response phases and contexts throughout an HP intervention, to explain to the affected community what should or should not be done. They typically have high credibility within the community and can therefore set an example.
Consider that there might be more than one type of local champion who can help you with the intervention
Make sure that roles and responsibilities are clear
Communicate with champions frequently and share programme information as well as obtaining their insights
Do not exclude people as champions because they have limited literacy or a disability
Do not manipulate community champions and treat them as if they were programme tools
Do not forget to continue consultations with other community members and representatives
Pakistan Red Crescent organised pad-making sessions to promote the use of menstrual products and raise awareness of menstrual health. These sessions also provided a valuable opportunity to explore the barriers, enablers, needs and preferences related to menstrual hygiene management (MHM) within the community. During pad-making sessions, the community mobilisation team (which included female and male health workers) identified the most active and skilled participants as MHM champions: key role models and influencers who became enablers for improved menstrual hygiene. The MHM champions trickle down their acquired skills in their communities about how to prepare pads with locally available materials, as well as providing information and referral to health facilities if needed.
IFRC (2020): Learning from Other National Societies. Global Menstrual Hygiene Management Experiences (Available in different languages)
Marshall, K. (2016): Case Study: Responding to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa: What Role Does Religion Play?, Georgetown University