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petra's blog

Will Narendra Modi free India from open defecation?

“Has it ever pained us that our mothers and sisters have to defecate in the open?” With these words, the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week pushed sanitation up the hierarchy of national concerns. Using the solemn speech in the annual commemoration of the Independence Day, Modi announced a new campaign to eliminate open defecation – the practice of people relieving themselves in the open – by 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth in 2019.

Reflections on the IWC WASH Conference in Brisbane

I have been puzzling to understand why I found this conference so energising and such a good experience.  In part it was the choreography and facilitation by Barbara Evans and others – what a difference it makes to have inventive ways of involving everyone and keeping us awake with bits of serious fun, and what a difference when facilitators and presenters are on top of their topics, have new things to share, are driven by controlled passion, and really enjoy themselves.  And maybe there is something Ozzie about this – welcome, openness, informality, climate.

The untold story of India’s sanitation failure, Addendum

Three months ago, a paper dealing with the causes of the failure of the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) in India and written by Brian Bell and myself, was published in the journal Water Policy. A very succinct summary: the TSC –the national rural sanitation campaign of India between 1999 and 2012– was a ‘good’ policy on paper, but yielded very poor results. Its valuable core principles –community-led, people-centred, demand-driven and incentive-based– did not happen in practice. The result: millions of latrines ‘planted’ throughout the country without any involvement or appropriation by the ‘beneficiaries’, severely affecting sustainability. We identified five main causes behind the theory-practice gap in the TSC: low political priority; flawed monitoring; distorting accountability and career incentives; technocratic and paternalistic inertia; and corruption.

Setting the scene for open defecation free communities in Zambia and beyond

This week Plan International WASH Advisors, IDS, IRC, Plan Netherlands,Plan UK and Plan USA have converged in Lusaka to deliberate on shit. It has been interesting to see how different countries have progressed over the four years of implementing CLTS. The experiences from the participants reveal that gender is critical in CLTS because we need to engage women, men and children to make decisions on sanitation as well as address their specific needs.

CLTS in rural north India

India is the country with the biggest open defecation problem in the world.  In India, open defecation is practiced by more than half of households and by about 67% percent of rural households.  In fact, 60 percent of people anywhere who defecate in the open live in India.  This widespread lack of sanitation, combined with India’s high population density, poses important health threats for children. 

CLTS Week…. Let’s deal with ‘Shit’ in Africa

I am in Lusaka Zambia participating in the Pan African Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) annual Network meeting. The first day was really exciting for me… first because I got to meet enthusiastic CLTS champions from East and West Africa and secondly, this year’s meeting is UNIQUE  because we have participation of the Zambian government staff, partners, and a traditional leader (Chief) from one of the communities where Plan Zambia is implementing CLTS!

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