Tag Archives: coercion

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


Nepal, Mid-Western Region: sanitation card system introduced

Villagers in Salkot, western Surkhet, have to produce a “sanitation card” when applying for services from the Village Development Committee (VDC).

The “sanitation card” system was introduced in Salkot in mid April 2011 when it was declared an open defecation free zone.

The card contains information on whether the house of the card holder has a toilet and has pledged to no longer practice open defecation.

According to VDC Secretary Tilak Ram Adhikari red cards are issued to households which do not not concrete toilets and white cards to those which do have them.

The VDC office claimed that the out of total 1,553 households of the VDC, 1,117 households have been using toilets.

Source: The Rising Nepal, 18 Jul 2011

Nepal, Mid-Western Region: no scholarship without a toilet

Another example of how coercion is used in sanitation programmes comes from Radhapur village, Banke district in Nepal’s Mid-western Region. The Village Development Committee (VDC) of Radhapur prevents people without toilets “from getting recommendations for citizenship, land certificates and other services”. Schools also do not give scholarships to students from “dalit” (untouchable) families that don’t have a toilet in their house.

Scholarship are made available by the Water Supply and Total Sanitation Programme. So far one school says it has provided scholarships to 133 households.The Radhapur VDC, Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH) and other organisations provide loans for toilet construction.

Source: Rajdhani / NGO Forum, 30 Jun 30, 2011

Time to acknowledge the dirty truth behind community-led sanitation

In rural India, extremes of coercion are being used to encourage toilet use writes Liz Chatterjee in the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog. Her provocative post has drawn comments from the likes of Robert Chambers, Rose George, Ned Breslin and Erik Harvey.

Wall art on the local council headquarters in Karnataka, where a two-year sanitation education campaign still has a long way to go. Photo: Liz Chatterjee

A spectacular rise in toilets usage from 20% to nearly 100% in a semi-rural district in Karnataka, realised by India’s national Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), Ms Chatterjee discovered, was founded on community-led coercion.

Previous efforts to build toilets in the area failed to ensure actual use. They were often used to store firewood or chickens while families continued to defecate outdoors.

But some of the techniques used to persuade reluctant community members to construct toilets were unorthodox to say the least.

At its mildest, this meant squads of teachers and youths, who patrolled the fields and blew whistles when they spotted people defecating. Schoolchildren whose families did not have toilets were humiliated in the classroom. Men followed women – and vice versa – all day, denying people the opportunity even to urinate. These strategies are the norm, not the exception, and have also been deployed in Nepal andBangladesh.

Equally common, though, were more questionable tactics. Squads threw stones at people defecating. Women were photographed and their pictures displayed publicly. The local government institution, the gram panchayat, threatened to cut off households’ water and electricity supplies until their owners had signed contracts promising to build latrines. A handful of very poor people reported that a toilet had been hastily constructed in their yards without their consent.

A local official proudly testified to the extremes of the coercion. He had personally locked up houses when people were out defecating, forcing them to come to his office and sign a contract to build a toilet before he would give them the keys. Another time, he had collected a woman’s faeces and dumped them on her kitchen table.

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