IDS Research on CLTS

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Title of project: Going to Scale? The Potential of Community-led Total Sanitation

Funded by: DFID South Asia Division and Policy Division

Duration: 1st April 2006-31st March 2009

Country focus: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, plus global

IDS team: Lyla Mehta (Lead researcher), Robert Chambers (Researcher/action learning), Anu Joshi (Researcher) Petra Bongartz (Coordination, Communication and Networking Officer), Naomi Vernon (Administrator), Kamal Kar (Consultant)





  • Akademika
  • Nina Shatifan (consultant)
  • Nilanjana Mukherjee (consultant)
  • Owin Jamasy (independent researcher)

Objective: To make a difference by reducing the deprivation and enhancing the wellbeing of poor people through research to generate knowledge and insights concerning CLTS, through participatory action research engaging with practice, and through the sharing of knowledge, experience and insights across communities, organisations and countries.

Project Aims:

Research to understand on-the-ground realities of CLTS and issues of spread, scale and quality
The research examines some of the core assumptions of CLTS around hardware subsidies, local notions of sanitation/hygiene, facilitation, sustainability and replicability. It is concerned with identifying on-the-ground realities through interdisciplinary research drawing on sociological, anthropological and political and institutional analysis. The project involves research in communities with and without CLTS, and in various stages of moving towards it, looking at the processes of “ignition”, adoption, dissemination and spread, local dynamics within communities, the effects of Government and NGO programmes with and without subsidy or other inducements, and the relationships between bureaucratic norms and imperatives, and programmes at the community level. Another issue for consideration is the social and physical sustainability of total sanitation. The research seeks to identify the most favourable conditions under which total sanitation can be achieved.

Participatory action learning to engage with practice and improve processes and outcomes
Participatory Action Learning engages with the facilitators and implementing organisations (both NGOs and governments) in ways which hope to enhance learning and improve practice and policy. Areas of attention include the selection, training and mentoring of facilitators; processes of preparation, ignition and follow up and support; forms of support for external and also community facilitators, networking at local and other levels, and overcoming obstacles.

Networking and sharing between organisations and countries to influence policy and practice
The aim of the networking and influencing component is to optimise the exchange of experiences and learning and to have an impact on policy. The networking activities facilitate sharing, learning and functional linkages between and across organisations, programmes and countries via Sharing and Learning workshops, presentations at UK and international events to share research findings and policy-relevant lessons, experiences and insights, a CLTS mailing list and the CLTS website.

Through generating cutting edge knowledge on CLTS and sanitation, and ensuring that lessons are learnt and shared across countries and organisations, the project supports the development and spread of good CLTS practices and supportive policies which will contribute to major gains in human wellbeing and help to address the MDGs.

The research that has been carried out by IDS and its partners in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia will be published in the form of research papers and a book on CLTS in 2009.

The main output of the action learning to date has been the CLTS Handbook published by Plan (UK) and IDS.

Networking activities have established an active and well-connected global CLTS network with linkages and partnerships across organisations, sectors, countries and continents; linking practitioners, researchers, policymakers, governments, NGOs and donors, facilitating exchanges of experience and information with the aim of contributing to policy and practice. Goodwill, momentum and interest have focused on the CLTS website which is the core global resource for CLTS.


IDS Conference on CLTS

CLTS Sharing and Learning Workshops

World Toilet Day 2008
Sanitation and Hygiene Week 2008
World Toilet Day 2007
World Water Day 2007
World Toilet Day 2006