NextGenGov Fellowship Programme
The Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA) has completely eliminated the use of plastic water bottles. Prior to the shift SLIDA was purchasing and discarding an estimated 3000 plastic water bottles a month. Reusable glass bottles have now replaced the single use plastic preventing over 36,000 bottles a year ending up in landfills or the Ocean. The move was not a straightforward operation and came down to the tenacity and ingenuity of the Director of Administration at SLIDA, Mr. K. P. Chandith, a champion of the NextGenGov Fellowship Programme.
The NextGenGov Fellowship Programme equips selected public sector officials like Mr. Chandith, with foresight and innovation tools, as well as design thinking approaches to implement creative solutions to complex challenges. The programme is co-developed as a joint initiative between Citra Social Innovation Lab, the Presidential Secretariat, the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government and SLIDA. Having gone through the programme Mr. Chandith utilized tools such as ‘Stakeholder Mapping’ and ‘Cost – benefit Analysis’ to successfully eliminate the use of plastic water bottles at SLIDA.
In addition to the positive environmental implications of replacing 36,000 plastic bottles a year, the project is also saving SLIDA an estimated 9 rupees per glass bottle in operational costs. Following the successful implementation, the project was recognized at the Presidential Environment Awards in 2019.
Mr. Chandith (Far right) with his team at the Presidential Environment Awards 2019
Mr. Chandith believes that the practical application of innovation and human centered design tools enable officials to implement creative solutions to challenges within their departments. Building on his impactful experience, at the end of the 2019 edition of the programme he enlisted the Citra team to conduct foresight and innovation workshops for his colleagues from the Sri Lanka Administrative Service.
“The introduction to these tools helped me successfully implement my project and as such, I felt it was important to share the knowledge and tools I was exposed to, through the NextGenGov Programme, with my colleagues.”
Mr. Chandith is one of 90 champions in the NextGenGov network from over 50 public institutions across the island and beyond. These selected officials go through a weeklong learning experience on foresight and innovation tools co-facilitated by Citra with renowned international experts.
Apart from being exposed to new tools and approaches, the programme also brings in leaders and change makers to share their insights on doing things differently within existing systems in Sri Lanka. The programme regularly brings in Ministers, Secretaries and institutional leaders from the government along with Ambassadors and decision makers from the diplomatic community and noteworthy individuals from the private sector to inspire and motivate the participants at the workshop. It is also an opportune moment for these key individuals to see the creative capacities and innovative nature of the public sector officials which they might not see on a regular basis.
The 5-day residential programmes also offer participants the chance to learn from each other and join a supportive network of innovation champions. Ms Preethika Sakalasooriya, Mr Dimuthu Galappaththi, Mr Janaka Udaya Kumara and Ms Priyangika Rathnayake are four such champions. Working in various teams at the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), but brought together by the NextGenGov programme, they teamed up and identified that the significant backlog of over 40,000 pending child abuse reports in the NCPA database was an issue they wanted to address together.
(L to R) Ms Preethika Sakalasooriya, Mr Dimuthu Galappaththi, Mr Janaka Udaya Kumara, Ms Priyangika Rathnayake
The team used foresight and innovation tools such as the ‘User Journey Map’ and ‘Issue Tree’ to identify the reasons behind the backlog and realized that a significant number of the reports in the database had already been processed. However, this wasn’t reflected in the database and the resolved reports were still counted among pending reports.
As a first step the team enlisted the help of a team of volunteers to update the database of resolved cases and speed up the processing of the remaining reports. With the support of the volunteers the team was able to clear a significant number of reports and having displayed the impact and need for a dedicated team to monitor and update the database, the team is now in the process of hiring a permanent team to fulfill this role. In addition to this, the team is also working with 10 ministries identified by the NCPA for the implementation of the revised child protection policy. The team will facilitate sessions and use tools such as the ‘User Journey Map’ and the ‘Issue Tree’ among others, with ministry officials to develop individual action plans for each of the 10 ministries.
Following the week-long programme and in-depth mentorship during the three months that followed, NextGenGov champions are also duly recognized for their perseverance at a high-level awards ceremony for creating lasting impact and change from within the public sector.
(L to R) Hon. Thilanga Sumathipala, (Then) State Minister of Technology and Innovation, Mr. Robert Juhkam, Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka with a NextGenGov champion and Hon. Susil Premajayantha, (Then) State Minister of International Cooperation
Addressing the gathering at the 2019 NextGenGov Awards Ceremony, Resident Representative of UNDP in Sri Lanka, Mr. Robert Juhkam stated, “The wide range of projects that strengthen institutions, build capacity and re-engineer processes that have been implemented as a result of this programme is a testament to the impact of empowering the right officials with the tools they need to create positive change.”
Together with its partners Citra Social Innovation Lab will continue to work closely with this growing network of innovation champions to ensure a sustained, long term integration of foresight and innovation for public sector excellence in Sri Lanka.