Using CLTS in the transition phase from emergency to development

  • ruthmiskelly
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Using CLTS in the transition phase from emergency to development

In my previous job implementing a WASH programme in South Sudan, my team applied CLTS triggering activities in an urban area during the transition from emergency to development.

Context: The town had been destroyed by the war in spring 2014, at which point almost all town residents fled into the UN military base about 5 miles away where a large IDP camp was formed. 2 years later, people from further afield had moved into the town, displaced by the conflict or pulled by the humanitarian aid provided in the area. At the same time, some original town inhabitants had started to return from the IDP camp to live in the town. With almost no existing latrines town, thousands of people moving in, and the looming rainy season, there was fear of a cholera outbreak.

As return of many people to the town indicated transition, donors preferred a sustainable, community-based approach to household sanitation over construction of emergency communal latrines, but permitted in-kind support in terms of provision of the latrine slab and loan of digging tools.

Despite the missing criteria of the existence of an independent community, we looked to the CLTS approach - it seemed to fit best with the resources we had available. We implemented the CLTS triggering activities in 2 neighbourhoods in the town. At the time I left the project it was about the 3rd month after triggering. I am sharing with you below some of the initial successes, challenges and lessons learned.


- In both neighbourhoods, large groups attended the triggering activities and started digging latrines the following day. By the time I left, there were over 40 latrines under construction.


- In neighbourhood 1, once the inhabitants had been triggered, we asked those present to elect leaders from the group to lead them forward through latrine construction. However, as we returned in the days after for the follow-up activities, the leaders quickly defaulted, stating they would not lead without some payment. This made it difficult for us to call the community together to discuss progress, and also to follow-up with every HH which had borrowed digging tools the day after the triggering. At this point, 1 woman volunteered herself to be a leader, since she felt passionate about ending open defecation and did not feel that she needed payment to assist the community in moving forward on this.

- Only providing the latrine slab and loaning digging tools was not sufficient, especially due to the time of the year. We had worked with local artisans to develop a weaved pit lining. However, by the time the participants came to line the pits, the sticks were no longer easily accessible due to the season. We ended up supplying sandbags for the lining. We also provided thick poles for the corners of the latrines and people were requested to contribute the rest of the poles required.

Lessons Learned

- For neighbourhood 2, at the point where the group was triggered, we requested a small number of women to volunteer to become the "community leaders" to lead this activity. We also ensured that at least 1 of the leaders knew the HH location of every HH representative that borrowed pit digging tools. This had success, and we did not struggle from the same roadblocks as with neighbourhood 1.

- Triggering would have had greater likelihood of success if it had been carried out at the beginning of the dry season when natural construction materials were more widely accessible and ensuring plenty of time for latrine construction to be completed before the rainy season.

I would also like to ask others 1) Have you experience in implementing CLTS in the transition phase, particularly when people have been displaced and there is no sense of "community"? I know that many will not feel comfortable with implementation of CLTS in this context and combining it with the in-kind support, therefore I also ask 2) What approaches do you recommend for household sanitation in this context?

Thank you :)

Ruth Miskelly
Knowledge and Network Officer - Sanitation
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Working on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Phase 3 SuSanA project (see here: )
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  • RebeccaScott
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Re: Using CLTS in the transition phase from emergency to development

Hi Ruth
I carried out a study for Tearfund in 2011 looking at their WASH interventions during the transition from post-conflict and post-emergency settings.
The full set of reports are available from the Tearfund TILZ website at:
Under the title: Sustainable WASH interventions as populations transition from relief to development
Do get in contact with me if you'd like to know more.

There's also the recent CLTS Frontiers by Frank Greaves of Tearfund:

Hope you find these helpful.
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  • nityajacob
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Re: Using CLTS in the transition phase from emergency to development

Dear Ruth,

I haven't seen CLTS implemented in the aftermath of emergencies, but in many rural communities in India. The routine is sending a team of trained motivators to spend 3 days in a village (or habitation). Day 1 is for pre-triggering where they meet people, survey the village and draw the OD maps during a public meeting. Day 2 is for triggering in different localities, taking care to have a relatively homogenous group. There is no prescribed way for this but the rule of thumb seems to be one member from each family and people from the same caste and religion in each triggering session. Day 3 is for setting up the local groups to stop people from defecating in the open by intercepting them in the morning and evenings.

The motivators' experiences seem to suggest small groups work best. Therefore, in a situation where people have been displaced, homogeneity would be desirable but harder than in settled villages. Local leaders in their experience work without payment but the motivators are paid. A local official is part of their team to lend weight to the process. Their team revisits the village every few days after triggering for a few months to keep tabs on what's happening and brings aberrations to the notice of senior officials.

Local leaders do crave some form of recognition - citations, uniform, badges, etc., and if a job is well done, then an award. They usually do not get cash awards but their efforts are recognised by high-ups in the government. This seems to keep them going. Pure altruism is rare to find, however!

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