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Improving Health Through Community-Led Total Sanitation

In just three years, CLTS efforts helped over 200 villages in Dinajpur District of Bangladesh eliminate open defecation and the entire population now has access to hygienic latrines.
In just three years, CLTS efforts helped over 200 villages in Dinajpur District of Bangladesh eliminate open defecation and the entire population now has access to hygienic latrines.

Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a process that raises awareness and empowers all actors of rural communities to avoid outdoor defecation, as well as promotes construction and use of latrines with their own resources.

 

CLTS is a key component of Plan’s global effort to apply state-of-the-art sanitation principles and is currently being adopted in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

In this global effort, Plan’s global CLTS handbook (published in 2008) is being used as a resource and guide for field practitioners and policy-makers alike worldwide. This handbook, authored by Dr. Kamal Kar and Dr. Robert Chambers of the Institute for Development Studies (IDS), was co-financed by DfID and Plan.

Since 2005, Plan has worked in Cambodia to expand CLTS coverage throughout the country. To this end, beginning in 2011 Plan has been implementing CLTS as part of the Cambodia Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Project (CR-SHIP) which aims to promote sustainable practices related to sanitation and hygiene in 1,737 villages in five districts. To date, 395 villages have been declared open defecation free (ODF), meaning that 324,888 people now live in ODF environments. In addition, 928,644 people have been reached with key hygiene messages.

In Kenya, Ghana, and Ethiopia, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Plan is working to promote CLTS and to make the model even more cost-effective, efficient, and scalable through the engagement of local actors (district officials, natural leaders, and teachers). In line with the CLTS approach, the project applies community-led solutions to address both demand for, and supply of, sanitation to help communities eliminate open defecation and maintain and improve sanitation status over time.

In April 2009, Plan’s office in Kenya was designated as one of Plan International’s hubs to expand CLTS worldwide. The initiative entails the establishment of a CLTS unit with training, research, and documentation capacities.

Apart from scaling up, Plan is trying innovative approaches such as implementing CLTS in urban areas (e.g. Bangladesh and India), and linking increased demand from communities with local private providers of water and sanitation hardware (e.g. sanitation marketing) or with government program funding.