Every year, more than 2.4 million people die from diarrheal and sanitation-related diseases – the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected are children under the age of five. In 2008, there were nearly one million deaths from diarrheal disease in Africa alone, according to the World Health Organization.
In September, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded Plan International USA a four-year $7 million dollar learning and implementation grant to determine how to best introduce Community-Led Total Sanitation solutions in developing countries. Research and testing will be conducted on new and specifically designed projects in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Ghana and will examine the CLTS approach, ultimately aiming to uncover ways to make it more scalable and cost-effective.
“CLTS is a proven methodology for mobilizing communities to completely eliminate open defecation through community-wide support and adoption,” said Tessie San Martin, Plan International USA President and CEO. “The Gates Foundation grant gives us the opportunity to test components of the CLTS approach through pilot studies, in order to implement successful and evidence-based programs on a larger scale.”
Plan International USA – with support from the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and local implementing partners – will design and deploy new CLTS projects and then evaluate and share best practices for implementing community-level sanitation initiatives. Research collected will help identify the most impactful approaches to help communities eliminate open defecation for the long-term.
The project has three integrated objectives:
- Learning: Plan International USA and UNC will design and implement research projects that test solutions to locally-relevant global CLTS scaling challenges in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Kenya.
- Capturing: Knowledge, tools, and lessons learned will be collected and evaluated to enhance the contributions of local actors and partner organizations at the community, facilitator, and government levels in CLTS implementation.
- Sharing: Plan will circulate the results of the research to internal and external practitioners and researchers in the sanitation sector.
“The goal of the project is to determine which CLTS sanitation interventions – delivered alone or as part of a package – most positively impact the scale-up and roll-out of CLTS,” said San Martin. “By testing and comparing interventions and outcomes, Plan will be able to improve and refine the CLTS approach for communities around the world and advance the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals for sanitation.”