The CLTS Knowledge Hub: Strengthening and broadening CLTS at scale

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IDS has been working in support of CLTS for over a decade. During this time CLTS has become an international movement for which IDS is the recognised knowledge hub. The Hub is staffed by Petra Bongartz (Strategy, Communication and Networking Officer), Naomi Vernon (Programme Officer), Jamie Myers (Research Officer) and Robert Chambers (Research Associate).


The overarching aim of the Hub is to contribute to the dignity, health and wellbeing of children, women and men in the developing world who currently suffer the consequences of inadequate or no sanitation and poor hygiene.


The CLTS Knowledge Hub is committed to supporting CLTS to go to scale with quality and in a sustainable manner, and to accelerate its spread. It seeks to do so in collaboration with practitioners, policy-makers, researchers and others working in the development, sanitation and related communities, in Governments, international agencies, NGOs, research institutes, and other organisations.  The Hub is dedicated to understanding the-on-the-ground realities of CLTS practice and to learning about, sharing and promoting good practices, ideas and innovations that lead to sustainability and scale. We aim to contribute to the momentum of the CLTS movement and to keep the CLTS community well connected and informed. It seeks to provide spaces for reflection, continuous learning and knowledge exchange.

What we do

Our intention is to support the scaling up of CLTS with quality and sustainability. To this end, we engage in the following activities:

  1. action learning, networking and dissemination,
  2. co-convening workshops for sharing and learning,
  3. the CLTS website and bi-monthly newsletter

We proactively co-generate and co-create practical knowledge, find out about and share innovations, and seek to make all this widely and quickly accessible. Through making linkages between organisations and between people, and encouraging and supporting champions, we seek to add to the energy and momentum behind CLTS. We co-convene learning and sharing workshops collaboratively with other organisations. We seek to facilitate South-South exchanges, and the generation of insights leading to practical outputs. We synthesise, analyse and publish, and fund translations of key materials. We strive to be nimble and relevant and continuously alert in spotting how to make a difference.

The changing landscape of CLTS

Alongside efforts to refine the overall quality, we now turn towards the new and emerging challenges that this new landscape of CLTS at scale, and in many cases led by national governments, brings with it. Many questions remain unanswered and much needs to be found out and analysed, and many insights and innovations shared. Among the many problems and opportunities that stand out most prominently include

  • physical, social and institutional sustainability,
  • second and third generation problems with ODF communities,
  • long term follow up, monitoring and verification,
  • equity, inclusion and those who are poorest and least able,
  • integration of CLTS and Sanitation Marketing,
  • triggering and adoption of handwashing,
  • adaptations and applications in urban, school and post-emergency contexts
  • the linkages between sanitation, undernutrition and stunting

History and Funding

Our work on CLTS, including the CLTS website (in its previous versions) was initially as part of the three year (2006-2009) DFID-funded research, action learning and networking project Going to Scale? The Potential of Community-led Total Sanitation . Until 31st December 2009, the action learning and networking aspect of this work continued as the project Sharing Lessons, Improving Practice: Maximising the potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation  funded by Irish Aid From 1st January 2010 to the 30th September 2014, this work was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Currently (2014-2019), the CLTS Knowledge Hub is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency Sida.