By ROBERT CHAMBERS, research associate, Institute of Development Studies
Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a radical participatory approach in which mainly rural communities are facilitated to analyse their practice of open defaecation and its effects and through disgust and self-respect decide to take action to stop it. Typically this takes a matter of weeks or months.
CLTS started in Bangladesh and has been spread to other countries including India, Indonesia, Nepal and Cambodia, and has recently been seeded in Latin America and Africa. The target is not total latrinisation but to become open defaecation free. Conditions are favourable for CLTS where open defaecation is widespread and there is no hardware subsidy programme. Its huge potential will not be realised in rural areas where donors provide large budgets for hardware.