GWI’s sustainable sanitation approach in West Africa initially focussed on implementing ‘demonstration latrines’ in rural areas, where the culture of open defecation (OD) and non-hygienic disposal of children’s faeces was widespread. However, demonstration latrines built in 2009 and 2010 proved ineffective in terms of cost, sustainability and replication. We therefore stopped constructing demonstration latrines in June 2010, took stock of how to address sanitation and our critical review led us to adopt an alternative approach: Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).
CLTS is a means of mobilising communities to eliminate open defecation, by training them to conduct their own appraisal of their local sanitation circumstances. We learned that merely constructing toilets for people does not necessarily result in improved sanitation. We used a participatory learning approach involving health workers, community volunteers, teachers and the media to train people in sanitation, thereby enabling communities to take responsibility, initiative and action.
CLTS has already encouraged millions of people globally to look at, talk about and tackle the problems caused by open defecation. “Tales of Shit: Community-Led Total Sanitation in Africa”, a bilingual DVD of Participatory Learning and Action, draws on this growing body of experience with CLTS. Additionally, the resources listed below document our experience of using evidence to change practice in the shift towards CLTS.