WSP promoted CLTS approach in Indonesia criticised

A highly critical article in Development and Change argues that the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach, which the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) has promoted in Indonesia, is not only “inadequate” but also “echoes coercive, race-based colonial public health practices”.

Susan Engel

Dr Susan Engel, University of Wollongong, Australis

Authors Dr Susan Engel and Anggun Susilo reveal striking similarities between developments in Indonesian sanitation in the 1920s and the 1990s. In both eras the focus changed from “the provision of hardware to [...] participation and social mobilization” to encourage “individuals and communities to construct and maintain their own sanitation facilities”.

In the 1920s, the Rockefeller Foundation led the change, 70 years later it was WSP. In both cases the approaches are said to have met resistance because they were coercive and humiliating for the poorest, who also had to pay for latrines they couldn’t really afford.

Engel and Susilo found no evidence that the CLTS approach in Indonesia was sustainable. They conclude that government involvement, not just self-help CLTS approaches, is essential for successful sanitation.

Engel, S, and Susilo, A., 2014. Shaming and sanitation in Indonesia : a return to colonial public health practices?. Development and change, 45, 1, pp. 157-178. DOI: 10.1111/dech.12075

See also:

  • India, Madhya Pradesh: sanitation campaign humiliates women, say critics, Sanitation Updates, 24 Dec 2014
  • WASHplus Weekly: Community-Led Total Sanitation, Sanitation Updates, 13 Dec 2013
  • Topic: CLTS and human rights: Should the right to community-wide health be won at the cost of individual rights?, SuSanA Forum

 

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