Did you know that an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe, hygienic toilets and as many as 1 billion people are forced to practice open defecation?
Plan International USA has forged a successful partnership with the University of North Carolina Water Institute to address open defecation in developing countries through a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The partnership between UNC and Plan provides an exciting example of how these two organizations have spanned the traditional divide between research and implementation actors.
Improving access to toilets.
Compounded by lack of access to safe water and poor hygiene practices, open defecation contributes to the spread of disease, which kills an estimated 1.5 million people per year. Despite the huge health benefits, enabling universal access to sanitation services has been a challenging and intractable development goal.
So, what are the promising solutions?
Community-Led Total Sanitation.
Plan believes that projects are more effective when they are co-created, implemented, managed and owned by the community. Community-led total sanitation (CLTS) is an approach that seeks to eliminate open defecation and encourage the construction, use and maintenance of sanitation facilities through “triggering” of behavior change that drives demand for household sanitation throughout the community. When successful, triggering promotes a community-wide commitment to becoming open-defecation free.
Is CLTS effective and scalable?
This is where Plan’s partnership with the Water Institute plays a part.
The Testing CLTS Approaches for Scalability project aims to advance rural sanitation efforts in Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, and worldwide by improving the cost-effectiveness and scalability of the CLTS approach, with a particular focus on the role of local actors (such as natural leaders, teachers or local government managers).
This goal has been achieved by collecting, critically evaluating, and disseminating lessons about overcoming common challenges to implementing CLTS at scale, based on applied research from interventions in Kenya, Ghana, and Ethiopia.
Recently, the project was extended for an additional 18 months, allowing Plan and the UNC Water Institute to further investigate and package the data already collected and to measure the extent of uptake of lessons learned in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Ghana.
A learning brief was recently released detailing the findings for a rapid evaluation of sanitation programming in Cambodia, for instance. Similar research is being conducted in six other countries.
Learn more about the Cambodia results.
Learn more about Testing CLTS Approaches for Scalability.
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