Tag Archives: Community-Led Total Sanitation

Global Sanitation Fund reports large-scale advances in sanitation and hygiene in 13 countries

Lucie Obiokang with the toilet she built after being triggered.

Lucie Obiokang with the toilet she built after being triggered.

A new report shows that the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) has supported governments and hundreds of their national partners in 13 countries, stretching from Cambodia to Senegal, to enable 7 million people in more than 20,500 communities to end open defecation.   

These results are published in the GSF’s latest Progress Report (link to report; link to photos), which highlights cumulative results from the start of the fund until the end of 2014. Nationally-led programmes supported by the GSF have enabled:

  • 4.2 million people with improved toilets
  • 7 million people and more than 20,500 communities to be open-defecation free
  • 8 million people with handwashing facilities

Currently, 2.5 billion people, or 40% of the global population, lack access to decent sanitation. Of those, more than a billion defecate in the open. Diarrheal disease, largely caused by poor sanitation and hygiene, is a leading cause of malnutrition, stunting and child mortality, claiming nearly 600,000 under-5 lives every year. Inadequate facilities also affect education and economic productivity and impact the dignity and personal safety of women and girls.

Established by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), the GSF funds behaviour change activities to help large numbers of poor people in the hardest-to-reach areas attain safe sanitation and adopt good hygiene practices. These activities are community-led, support national efforts, and bring together a diverse group of stakeholders in order to address, at a large scale, the severe deficiencies in access to sanitation and hygiene.

The GSF is a pooled financing mechanism with the potential to further accelerate access to sanitation for hundreds of millions of people over the next 15 years. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, the GSF reported an almost 90 percent increase in the number of people living open-defecation free in target regions of 13 countries[1] across Africa and Asia. During this same period, the GSF has also supported a 55 percent increase in the number of people with access to improved toilets in those same areas. The United Nations system has identified global funds as an important tool to enable member countries to achieve their national development targets, including those for sanitation and hygiene.[2]

“These results prove that we are moving closer to our vision of a world where everybody has sustained sanitation and hygiene, supported by safe water,” said Chris Williams, Executive Director of WSSCC.  “This is a crucial step towards achieving better health, reducing poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability for the most marginalized people in the world.”

These GSF results have been achieved due to the work of more than 200 partners, including executing agencies and sub-grantees composed of representatives from governments, international organizations, academic institutions, the United Nations and civil society. One of the strongest success factors in the GSF approach is that it allows flexibility for countries to develop their programmes within the context of their own institutional framework and according to their own specific sanitation and hygiene needs, sector capacity and stakeholders. This implementation methodology is used to reach large numbers of households in a relatively short period of time and is vital for scaling up safe sanitation and hygiene practices.

“GSF is one of the few funds for government-led, donor-funded sanitation and hygiene programmes,” said Williams. “It can uniquely serve as a catalyst to the wider sector as a model that is replicable for others interested in large-scale behaviour change.”

Reaching scale has required that sub-grantees can identify influential, strategic communities, and make effective use of natural leaders, religious and local leaders, or hundreds of others who serve as individual sanitation and hygiene champions. GSF supported programmes apply a local delivery mechanism that engages households in thousands of villages, which enables people to make informed decisions about their sanitation and hygiene behaviour that can improve their health, education and productivity.

The report also highlights the GSF’s impact on national programmes. In Uganda, there are now more than 1.4 million people living in open-defecation free (ODF) environments, thanks to GSF-funded activities, and close to three million people have been reached by hygiene messages as a result of decentralized local government intervention. In Madagascar, over 1.3 million people are now living in ODF environments – in all 22 of the countries regions – and India’s GSF-supported programme has over 782,000 people with handwashing facilities.

“Access to improved sanitation has to be a sustainable reality for every person in the community, regardless of age, gender or disability, in order for the health and other benefits to be enjoyed by all,” said David Shimkus, Programme Director of the GSF. “This report shows that GSF-supported programmes are making major strides in achieving improved sanitation and hygiene for the most vulnerable, and all stakeholders will continue to work together to ensure such progress continues.”

The Governments of Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have contributed to the GSF since its establishment in 2008. Close to $105 million has been committed for 13 country programmes, which aim to reach 36 million people.

[1] Benin, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.

[2] See draft outcome document for the forthcoming Addis Ababa Accord of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Financing for Sustainable Development report and its Role of Global Funds in a Post-2015 Development Framework.

Making Sanitation and Hygiene Safer- Reducing Vulnerabilities to Violence

Making Sanitation and Hygiene Safer- Reducing Vulnerabilities to Violence. Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights, Issue 5, May 2015.

Authors: Sarah House and Sue Cavill.

CLTS aims for total sanitation where no-one practices open defecation, which in itself has potential to reduce vulnerabilities to violence. Concerns over safety, privacy or dignity when using sanitary facilities can however lead to the facilities not being used or only being used during hours of darkness.

Whilst poor design or siting of latrines or hygiene related facilities are not the root cause of violence, these issues can contribute to increased vulnerabilities to violence, as well as fear of violence, which can affect the usage of the facilities and also the ability of communities to become and remain ODF.

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS focuses on the issue of safety and vulnerabilities to violence that women, girls and sometimes boys and men can face which are related to sanitation and hygiene.

It points out areas in which CLTS methodologies, if not used skilfully with awareness and care, can run the potential risk of creating additional vulnerabilities, for example as a by-product of community pressure to reach ODF.

It also looks at good practices within organisations to ensure that those working in the sector know how to programme to reduce vulnerabilities to violence and to ensure that sector actors also do not become the perpetrators of, or face violence.

WASHplus Weekly: Focus on Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)

Issue 181| March 6, 2015 | Community-Led Total Sanitation

This issue focuses on recent CLTS studies, reports, blog posts, and videos. Included is a new issue of Frontiers of CLTS on sustainability; reports on the health impacts of open defecation; videos and reports on CLTS programs in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, and Kenya; and other studies/resources.


Sustainability and CLTS: Taking Stock. Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights, Issue 4, Feb 2015. S Cavill. Link clts
There are multiple and complex challenges associated with achieving sustainability. Habits are hard to break and so sustainability of behavior change continues to be a major preoccupation. The CLTS and WASH communities need to continue to share learning and insights and to draw practical conclusions that lead to better practice. Action learning that is grounded in field realities, open-mindedness, mutual respect, and sharing is the way forward. The accessibility of the four evaluations in the opening pages of Frontiers sets a good precedent.

Other issues covered in this series of Frontiers of CLTS are: Issue 1: Participatory Design Development for Sanitation | Issue 2: How to Trigger for Handwashing with Soap | Issue 3: Disability—Making CLTS Fully Inclusive |


Webinar on Participatory Design Development for Sanitation – March 26, 2015, 6–8 a.m. EDT. Link
Ben Cole will be discussing his experiences in applying participatory design to accompany and extend Malawi’s national CLTS program since 2012.  Participatory design is a natural extension to the processes applied in CLTS programs. Mr. Cole’s work in three rural districts of Malawi demonstrates the immense potential that participatory design can offer to CLTS programming. It offers a low-cost engagement tool that can support traditional follow-up approaches to CLTS programming.


Talking Shit: Is Community-Led Total Sanitation a Radical and Revolutionary Approach to Sanitation? Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, Jan/Feb 2015. M Galvin.Link
In contrast to past approaches, one of CLTS’s main tenets is strictly no subsidies of finance or materials. In the absence of monitoring and evaluation systems, it is not clear whether its immediate achievements are sustainable. In addition to questioning its sustainability, it is essential to examine CLTS through the analytical lens of power dynamics and human rights.

Lessons from Pakistan’s Approach to Total Sanitation. CLTS Blog, Feb 2015. J Myers, CLTS Knowledge Hub. Link
Pakistan represents an excellent example of adaptations being made to the traditional CLTS process due to local conditions. It is due to conducting CLTS in areas recovering from the 2010 floods that some of these adaptations have been made.

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Frontiers of CLTS Issue 4: Sustainability and CLTS- Taking Stock

Frontiers of CLTS Issue 4: Sustainability and CLTS- Taking Stock, 2015.

Sustainability is without doubt one of the most burning subject matters that subsumes many of the issues that we are seeing in CLTS and wider WASH practice. clts

There have been several useful studies on sustainability that have highlighted some of the different aspects as well as the complexities involved. However, it is unclear how much of the learning from these studies has been built into current and future programming and practice.

Based on existing research and our own understanding, this issue of Frontiers of CLTS is an attempt at an up to date synthesis of where we are at the beginning of 2015.

In the issue, we identify some priority areas for learning: How to phase in sanitation marketing; Post-ODF engagement of government, NGOS, donors and others; How to ensure equity and inclusion; How to transform social norms; Monitoring, learning, changing.

CLTS and Sustainability: A Work/Writeshop – Call for abstracts

The CLTS Knowledge Hub at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is hosting an international work- and writeshop on CLTS and Sustainability from 6-12 April 2015 at Lukenya Getaway near Nairobi, Kenya.

Participants’ writings, together with commissioned pieces of work will form the basis of a publication on sustainability that will published in the IDS series Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights.

Potential contributors are requested to send an abstract of 500-900 words to
P.Bongartz@ids.ac.uk by 31st January 2015. If your application is successful, you will be invited to work on a first draft to be submitted by 13th March 2015.

For more information go to:  http://www.communityledtotalsanitation.org/story/call-abstracts-writeshop-and-publication-sustainability

SuSanA Discussion Forum – Shame in sanitation

A series of interesting posts on Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and the shaming strategy/approach used in CLTS.


  • Not a big fan of such tactics either, but I think one needs to acknowledge the other side too, i.e. open defecation is not simply an individual problem but rather one that effects entire communities, so exerting social pressure on the offenders is to some extend justified. The main problem seems to be that it is “all sticks and no carrots”, which given the low economic capabilities of many offenders isn’t very likely to work in the medium to long term.
  • Whistle-blowing by students to stop open defecators is like promoting gang-mobbing as a sort of rule of law. There are underlying reasons for why open defecation is practiced. One billion open defecators cannot be wrong. The psychology of shaming people for defecating in the open or even discussing defecation in public is a deep-rooted one relating to the commonly shared taboo surrounding human excreta. I would even accuse WASH experts and senior officials for indirectly contributing to this behavior when they use swear words to describe human excreta. This is the last chapter in human development and most people have not progressed beyond childhood when it comes to discussing excreta.


Robert Chambers – So Much to Keep Up With, So Much to Learn

This was the first time I have been to the annual four and a half day conference of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina.  Like the annual WEDC conference, there was a huge, almost overwhelming, harvest of information and learning. Here are some bullets of things that struck me:

Inequality is big, big now, with the post-2015 agenda.  It will be picked up and reported in the JMP.  We are entering a new space.  Good. Robert_chambers

Ash. Soap or ash for handwashing.  A JMP committee was unwilling to mention ash because there has been no study of the health effects, only those of soap, although there is no question that microbiologically it is nearly as good as soap.  Let us hope that research will be funded – there are people willing to carry it out.  But the big money for HW research comes, I suppose, from Unilever and Proctor and Gamble.  There is scope here for funding from others.  Ash is poor-friendly – widely available, costless, can be left outside without being stolen or taken by teachers, and is not eaten by goats.  But the deeply rooted refrain is ‘handwashing with soap’.  Again and again one has to argue for including ash – ‘handwashing with soap or ash’ or for that matter, soil, depending on the soil.

Behaviour change.  This came up repeatedly. Far too much to absorb or report but some snippets:

  • Signing a pledge can be effective
  • When someone has invested (e.g in building their own toilet) they may feel they have to keep up appearances and justify it by using it
  • Frequent rewards can reinforce behaviour
  • Special times can be picked as opportunities for change – e.g. a marriage or funeral
  • New behaviours can piggy-back on one another through linking
  • ‘Choice is the enemy of behaviour change’.
  • People infer motives from observing their own behaviour (linked with dissonance reduction)

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