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Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in India is mostly used within the framework of Government of India’s Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), which was launched in 1999. TSC provides for subsidies, now called incentives, to below poverty line (BPL) households in rural areas of the country. CLTS is reportedly in use now in 16 of 35 states in India. Since its introduction in Ahmednagar and Nanded districts of Maharashtra in 2002 on a pilot basis, CLTS has been reportedly used in varying degrees across 135 districts in the country so far, particularly since 2006. As per a rough estimate, around 5 million people have gained access to safe sanitation following CLTS interventions across rural India.

Himachal Pradesh (HP) and Haryana are the two states where CLTS has been used in all the districts. In the remaining 14 states, the percentage of districts where CLTS has been used ranges from 6 % to 86% in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Meghalaya respectively. While HP remains the only state where state sanitation strategy of 2005 adopts CLTS principles of no-subsidy and community ownership of the sanitation agenda, Haryana is a state which has underplayed the provision of subsidy in TSC to support those who have tried to make the sanitation drive community led using the CLTS approach, as in the districts of Panipat and Sirsa.

In Himachal Pradesh and Haryana where CLTS has been used in all the districts of the state, results have been remarkably better with around 60-70% increase in sanitation coverage over a period of 4-5 years during 2006-2010. In states of Meghalaya, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh, where CLTS has been introduced in few of the districts, rate of increase in sanitation coverage has been in the range of around 30-40% during the same period. In the state of Bihar, where there is provision of subsidy both for above poverty line (APL) and below poverty line (BPL) households with no CLTS activity so far, the rate of increase in sanitation coverage has been only around 20% in that period.

But beyond these figures, there is a growing body of experience and evidence, mainly of a qualitative nature, from across states of HP, Haryana, Maharashtra and Meghalaya, which suggests that CLTS has helped achieve faster and more sustainable results on the ground.

CLTS has been used in three urban centres as well that include: Kalyani near Kolkata in west Bengal (2005-07); Raigad near Mumbai in Maharashtra (2008); and Nanded in North-Western Maharashtra (2011-on-going). Kalyani Municipal Area has the distinction of being the first city to have 52 slums, which have become open defecation free (ODF) using the CLTS approach. The process in Kalyani was facilitated by Kamal Kar, the innovator of the CLTS approach, and his team. CLTS in Raigad was used to trigger urban communities into action with its focus on safe disposal of solid waste.

Nanded is the first city in India to use CLTS to engage with communities for the preparation of a comprehensive city sanitation plan, which is currently in its implementation phase. Around 100 communities with an average population of 1000 people have been triggered into action since April 2011. These communities have mobilised themselves to stop open defecation, make their locality garbage free, and undertake the responsibility of keeping the city drains clean. Supported by Nanded-Waghala City Municipal Corporation, this process is currently being facilitated by Knowledge Links and Feedback Foundation.