Kamal Kar in Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list

Dr, Kamal Kar

CLTS pioneer Dr. Kamal Kar features in Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list published in December 2010. He is ranked at place 84 “for doing the world’s dirty work”. First place in the top 100 is reserved for billionaire philanthropists Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

Below is the full text as it appears in Foreign Policy:

Kamal Kar spends much of his time thinking about something that many of us would rather not: where and how people poop. It’s not pretty, but improving sanitation is one of the most important aspects of overcoming poverty and waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera, which kill millions of people every year. That’s where Kar, an agricultural scientist by training, comes in. Sanitation is about people, not pipes, he says: “It’s not a question of counting toilets.” Once toilets and sewers are built, getting communities to use them is often a tougher challenge: for example in Bangladesh, where defecating indoors had been strictly taboo.* He suggests such tactics as giving children whistles to blow whenever they see someone defecating outside — a sort of constructive peer pressure.

And it works. After Bangladesh adopted Kar’s ideas, latrine coverage skyrocketed from just 33 percent in 2003 to more than 70 percent today. Kar’s “community-led total sanitation” method is now at work in 39 countries around the world.

Kamal Kar is an associate at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK, which published his groundbreaking paper Subsidy or Self-Respect? Community Led Total Sanitation in 2003. On Kar’s listing in the Foreign Policy top 100, IDS professor Robert Chambers writes that it is “brilliant that his work has received this recognition”.

He has personally introduced CLTS into many countries. That there may now be as many as 10 million people living in ODF communities in well over 30 countries as a result of the spread of CLTS owes a huge amount to his unflagging energy and enthusiasm.

Dr. Kar is the founder and chairman of the CLTS Foundation, based in Kolkata, India. The Foundation says it succeeded in

transforming the city of Kalyani, West Bengal, in India with a population of about 100,000 into an ODF (Open Defecation Free) city in 2008. Kalyani is the only city in India that could claim to be truly ODF and has been acknowledged and rewarded by the President of India on 14th August 2009, the eve of 62nd Independence Day of the country.

Source: Foreign Policy, December 2010 ; IDS, 10 Dec 2010

2 responses to “Kamal Kar in Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list

  1. Community led total sanitation seems to be very effective,however, it is very time consuming. Does anyone know if this is considered a sustainable way to provide sanitation? I.e. if CLTS was the only way to get people to change their sanitation habits, how many people would have to be employed (and how much money would be required) to sensitize everyone in the world. I think that CLTS will not work as the only solution. Hopefully it has some compounding effect and once sensitizing reaches some threshold, people will start to see for themselves that sanitation is essential.

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