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Robert Chambers - Research Associate

Participation Power and Social Change
T: +44 (0)1273 915723

Richard Douglass

Thematic Expertise:
Agriculture; Nutrition; Participatory methodologies; Participation Power and Politics; Poverty; Water and Sanitation.

Geographic Expertise:
Sub Saharan Africa.

Professor Robert Chambers has a background in biology, history and public administration.

His current concerns and interests include professionalism, power, the personal dimension in development, participatory methodologies, teaching and learning with large numbers, agriculture and science, Seasonality Revisited, and Community-Led Total Sanitation.

Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a participatory approach that started in Bangladesh and has been spread to varying degrees in India, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Nepal. To a limited degree, it has also been trialled in some African countries.

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Promoting and developing immersions as a practical training method for people working in international development

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Promoting a rights perspective to the challenges of poverty, inequality and insecurity.

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

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This is the cover to IDS Working Paper 450, 'Reframing Undernutrition: Faecally-Transmitted Infections and the 5 As'.

Reframing Undernutrition: Faecally-Transmitted Infections and the 5 As

The dominant nutrition discourse concerns access to adequate food and its quality. It now includes food security, food rights and justice, governance and agriculture. More details

Non-IDS publication

Good Practices for Effective Participation in Social Protection Design and Implementation

This short article looks at how participation can provide some answers to overcoming the tendency for elite capture in social protection programmes. More details

This is the image for the book ' Explorations in Development Practice'.

Into the Unknown: Explorations in Development Practice

Robert Chambers reflects on experiences, which led him to examine personal biases and predispositions, and he challenges readers to examine the pervasive significance of power in forming and framing knowledge. Into the Unknown reflects on the journey of learning, and encourages readers to learn from observation, curiosity, critical feedback, play and fun. More details

Non-IDS publication

Sanitation and Stunting in India: Undernutrition's Blind Spot

The puzzle of persistent undernutrition in India is largely explained by open defecation, population density, and lack of sanitation and hygiene. The impact on nutrition of many faecally-transmitted infections, not just the diarrhoeas, has been a blind spot. In hygienic conditions much of the undernutrition in India would disappear. More details

This is the image for the book, 'Who Counts? The Power of Participatory Statistics'.

Who Counts? The Power of Participatory Statistics

Local people can generate their own numbers – and the statistics that result are powerful for themselves and can influence policy. More details

This is the image for 'Provocations for Development'.

Provocations for Development

Provocations for Development is an entertaining and unsettling collection of writings that questions concepts, conventions and practices in development. More details

IDS publications on international development research

'Lukenya Notes': Taking CLTS to Scale with Quality

This document is a summary of the key recommendations from the IDS meeting of CLTS practitioners held in Lukenya Nairobi in July 2011, immediately after the AfricaSan3 meeting. More details

IDS Research Summary

Paradigms, Poverty and Adaptive Pluralism

This paper explores participatory methodologies (PMs) associated with a paradigm of people, contrasted with a dominant paradigm associated with things. More details

IDS Working Paper

Paradigms, Poverty and Adaptive Pluralism

In earlier analysis, two paradigms were identified in development professionalism, thinking and practice: one, often dominant, associated with things; and one, often subordinate, associated with people. More details

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing

Beyond Subsidies – Triggering a Revolution in Rural Sanitation

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

Who Counts? The Quiet Revolution of Participation and Numbers

This Research Summary shows how Working Paper 296 documents a quiet revolution, unrecognised in professional mainstreams, that has been taking place in the past decade and a half. More details

Front cover of the In Focus Policy Briefing 7

Towards a New Social Justice Agenda: understanding Political responses to crises

Food riots across the developing world in 2008 sent powerful messages about the limits to people's tolerance of acute economic insecurity. 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

This is the latest paper by Robert Chambers

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

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

IDS Working Paper

Who Counts? The Quiet Revolution of Participation and Numbers

Participatory approaches and methods can generate quantitative as well as qualitative data. Mainly since the early 1990s, a quiet tide of innovation has developed a rich range of participatory ways, many of them visual and tangible, by which local people themselves produce numbers. More details

IDS Working Paper

From PRA to PLA to Pluralism: Practice and Theory

PRA (participatory rural appraisal) and the more inclusive PLA (participatory learning and action) are families of participatory methodologies which have evolved as behaviours and attitudes, methods, and practices of sharing. During the 1990s and 2000s PRA/PLA has spread and been applied in most countries in the world. More details

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