In 2006, the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) on Water Supply and Sanitation estimated rural sanitation coverage in Zambia to be 52%. Even though the Zambian government’s official figures reported only 13% coverage in 2005, the 52% is considered to be a more realistic estimate, as the government’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) only considers Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) latrines and flush toilets as acceptable and adequate sanitation technologies. Fortunately, the more recent National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (NRWSSP), a strategy for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for sanitation and water supply, embraces a new broader definition for ‘adequate’ sanitation. Nevertheless, even with 52% coverage, a considerable proportion of the rural population remains without adequate sanitation.

Until recently, there had been little success in increasing access to sanitation in Zambia both with and without subsidy. Therefore, in 2007, UNICEF in conjunction with the Government of Zambia decided to pilot the CLTS approach in Choma district in Zambia’s Southern province, where the current coverage is 40%, in order to see whether CLTS can have offer an effective strategy for rural sanitation implementation in the country. Twelve communities were triggered by trained CLTS facilitators. Within the period of two months, sanitation coverage increased from 23% to 88% within a population of 4,536 and 75% of the villages were verified as open defecation free (ODF), surpassing the MDG target for sanitation in the pilot area in just two months. The role of traditional leaders was crucial in ensuring sustained action from communities and the chiefs involved are keen to scale up the approach to all the communities in their respective chiefdoms.

In July 2008, Kamal Kar was invited by Plan RESA (Region of East and Southern Africa) to hold a training workshop in Chisamba, Central Province. The week-long hands-on training was attended by staff from Plan Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Department for Community Development in Zambia, the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development in Malawi, UNICEF Malawi, the Ministry of Health of Mozambique, and CREPA (Centre Regional pour l’eau potable) Burkina Faso. Participants triggered CLTS in 9 villages and on the last day of the training, Natural Leaders from the villages presented their action plans at the workshop.