Community-led Total Sanitation Programme

Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is an innovative methodology for mobilising communities to completely eliminate open defecation (OD). Communities are facilitated to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of open defecation and take their own action to become open defecation free (ODF).

Merely providing toilets does not guarantee their use, nor result in improved sanitation and hygiene. Earlier approaches to sanitation prescribed high initial standards and offered subsidies as an incentive. But this often led to uneven adoption, problems with long-term sustainability and only partial use. It also created a culture of dependence on subsidies.

Open defecation and the cycle of fecal–oral contamination continued to spread disease. In contrast, CLTS focuses on the behavioural change needed to ensure real and sustainable improvements – investing in community mobilisation instead of hardware, and shifting the focus from toilet construction for individual households to the creation of 'open defecation-free' villages.

By raising awareness that as long as even a minority continues to defecate in the open everyone is at risk of disease, CLTS triggers the community's desire for change, propels them into action and encourages innovation, mutual support and appropriate local solutions, thus leading to greater ownership and sustainability.

IDS has been working on the research, learning and networking aspects of CLTS for close to a decade. During this time, CLTS has become an international movement. The IDS programme on Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) works around the world to ensure that CLTS goes to scale with quality and in a sustainable and inclusive manner. The aim is to contribute to the dignity, health and wellbeing of children, women and men in the developing world who currently suffer the consequences of inadequate or no sanitation and poor hygiene.

Strengthening and Broadening Community-Led Total Sanitation at Scale

The Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Hub works in collaboration with practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and others in the development, sanitation and related communities, and in governments, international agencies, civil society, research institutes and other organisations. More details

Sharing Lessons, Improving Practice: Maximising the Potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation

CLTS is an innovative methodology for mobilising communities to completely eliminate open defecation (OD). More details

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IDS publications on international development research

Sanitation and Hygiene in Africa: Where do We Stand? Analysis from the AfricaSan Conference, Kigali, Rwanda

This book takes stock of progress made by African countries through the AfricaSan process since 2008 and the progress needed to meet the MDG on sanitation by 2015 and beyond. This book addresses priorities which have been identified by African countries as the key elements which need to be addressed in order to accelerate progress. More details

IDS Research Summary

Digging in, Spreading out and Growing up: Introducing CLTS in Africa

IDS Research Summary of IDS Practice Paper 8 (2011)

Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS), an approach that focuses on community-wide behaviour change to stop open defecation, has spread widely but with varying outcomes in Africa. More details

This is the image of Digging in, Spreading out and Growing up: Introducing CLTS in Africa.

Digging in, Spreading out and Growing up: Introducing CLTS in Africa

IDS Practice Paper 8 (2011)

Open defecation is the norm in rural and urban Africa – only about a third of the population uses improved sanitation facilities – and this contributes in various ways to a heavy disease burden. More details

Shit Matters

Shit Matters: The Potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation

Sanitation remains one of the biggest development challenges of our time, and a long-neglected issue associated with taboos and stigma. Despite growing attention and efforts, many top-down approaches to sanitation have failed, reflecting that simply providing people with a latrine or toilet does not necessarily guarantee its use. More details

CLTS WP 37

The Dynamics and Sustainability of Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS): Mapping Challenges and Pathways

STEPS Working Paper 37 (2010)

Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) represents a radical alternative to conventional top-down approaches to sanitation and offers hope of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. More details

Facilitating 'Hands-on' Training Workshops for CLTS: A Trainer's Training Guide

This long awaited publication responds to the demand for guidance on how to conduct training of CLTS facilitators. The fast spread of CLTS to now over 40 countries means that the demand for good facilitators and trainers of facilitators currently outstrips supply. More details

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing

Beyond Subsidies – Triggering a Revolution in Rural Sanitation

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 10 (2009)

This In Focus Policy Briefing asks how can we maximise the huge potential for transforming rural sanitation that this approach offers? What has worked? What hinders progress? What should be done? More details

IDS Research Summary

Taking Community-Led Total Sanitation to Scale: Movement, Spread and Adaptation

IDS Research Report of IDS Working Paper 298 (2009)

Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a new approach to sanitation which encourages communities to eliminate open defecation. This approach involves a shift away from the traditional focus on subsidies for toilet construction towards changing the attitudes and behaviour of the community, and it has huge potential to contribute towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals. More details

This is the latest paper by Robert Chambers

Going to Scale with Community-Led Total Sanitation: Reflections on Experience, Issues and Ways Forward

IDS Practice Paper 1 (2009)

Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a revolutionary approach in which communities are facilitated to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of open defecation (OD) and take their own action to become ODF (open defecation-free). More details

Handbook on Community-Led Total Sanitation

The CLTS approach originates from Kamal Kar's evaluation of WaterAid Bangladesh and their local partner organisation - VERC's (Village Education Resource Centre is a local NGO) traditional water and sanitation programme and his subsequent work in Bangladesh in late 1999 and into 2000. More details

IDS Working Paper

Taking Community-Led Total Sanitation to Scale: Movement, Spread and Adaptation

IDS Working Paper 298 (2008)

When a practice becomes widespread enough, then it has 'gone to scale'. But increasing the intensity and spread of a particular practice is not a linear or obvious endeavour. The paper proposes that going to scale is multi-dimensional and complex. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Some Recent Developments in Community-Led Total Sanitation: Latest Update to Subsidy or Self Respect, IDS Working Paper 257

This paper is intended to complement IDS Working Paper 257 (November 2005), by giving a short update on recent developments in the rapidly changing field of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in six countries in South and South East Asia. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Community-Led Total Sanitation

This paper is intended to complement IDS Working Paper 257 (November 2005), by giving a short update on recent developments in the rapidly changing field of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in six countries in South and South East Asia. It highlights emerging trends, successes, challenges and lessons from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia and Nepal. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Practical Guide to Triggering Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)

This basic ‘how-to’ guide aims to help frontline staff and field facilitators to understand the philosophy and principles of CLTS, and to use some of the practical tools and techniques flexibly and freely. More details

This is the cover of a Working Paper

Subsidy or Self-Respect? Community Led Total Sanitation. An Update on Recent Developments

IDS Working Paper 257 (2005)

Community Led Total Sanitation, or CLTS, is an approach which facilitates a process of empowering local communities to stop open defecation and to build and use latrines without the support of any external hardware subsidy. More details

IDS Working Paper

Subsidy or Self-respect? Participatory Total Community Sanitation in Bangladesh

IDS Working Paper 184 (2003)

A new approach being pioneered by the author (Dr Kamal Kar, Social and Participatory Development Consultant from Calcutta, India) with Village Education Resource Centre (VERC), Water Aid in Bangladesh and other agencies concentrates on empowering local people to analyse the extent and risk of environmental pollution caused by open defecation, and to construct toilets without any external subsidies. More details

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