Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

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  • dietvorst
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

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Well Joe, I am not a CLTS expert but I would have thought most CLTS facilitators are experts in behviour change rather than hydrology. Therefore external expertise (not allowed by Kar) would still be needed.

To my surprise I just came across a new publication in the Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights series called " Participatory Design Development for Sanitation " which is actually about building better latrines that don't collapse. There's even mention of a "qualified structural engineer" to review designs and a "business consultant" to "support the entrepreneurs in technical training and ongoing quality control". So not all CLTS promoters (the publication was from UNICEF) reject external "interference"!
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  • dwumfourasare
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  • Dr. Bismark Dwumfour-Asare has PhD and MSc in Water Supply, Environmental Sanitation and Waste Management from the Civil Engineering Department of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana. He also holds a BSc in Biochemistry. He is currently a Senior Lecturer from University of Education Winneba, Ghana.
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

Well, i am enjoying this interesting debate about CLTS. there have been a couple of studies in places where interventions are claimed to be successful. it will be good for such reports and papers to be shared for us to see what is happening. i hope this debate will spark professionals and practitioners to start sharing their experiences and studies. it appears proponents will almost always will be apprehensive with criticisms if they might be obvious.

in my little experiences, i've not seen any strong evidence agains subsidy based approach to sanitation. well, i've not seen yet in Ghana here where subsidy based latrines were never used by households or beneficiaries (who are genuinely poor/needy) who can barely afford a 2-square meal, but people always say subsidy approach to sanitation is bad. who has weighed the pros and cons of both subsidy based interventions and CLTS? some of these debates will continue once we are not seeing any improvement either with CLTS which appears to "crucify" subsidy based interventions. in fact, the irony of the matter is that, most subsidy based sanitation approaches appeared to be subsidiaries/subservient of water supply interventions/projects but not interventions on their own. so some condemnations could be false as well.
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  • DavidAlan
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  • David Crosweller
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

Preetha, I have not seen a response relating to the book launch and the subsequent letter that was sent. Could you give some details and an update please. Thanks.
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

Friends have raised valid points that need to be clarified, especially David’s point: "Can you also shed some light on the controversy between figures used in the book that were refuted by the Madagascan Minister?"

The publication, “Promising Pathways,” carries rather protracted foreword by KK (10 pp). While I had the delightful experience of meeting KK at World Water Forum 6, in Marseille, France in March 2012, I feel it is not quite acceptable, when given to understand that CLTS is a “near-universal” sanitation problems’ solution. CLTS in urban areas is not implementable, for the simple reason that, in urban areas, it is not the question of pit latrine or open defecation. We have a whole sewerage setup from sewage generation, transportation, treatment and ultimate disposal. Where do the predominantly rural CLTS initiatives fit in the equation?

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  • sengel
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

Thanks David for raising these important questions. In Indonesia, where I have done some research, their answer was to provide free concrete rings and liners - despite the CLTS hostility to subsidies. Yet this then raised the next issue of what happens when the pit is full and CLTS doesn't adequately or at all address this - it is meant to be dealt with by the market.

Pit emptying is a particular issue in higher density rural areas, as across much of Java, where you can't always simply dig another pit. My research, which was only small-scale, showed people returned to open defecation. It is available from: ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/1110/

A recent paper that mentions the poor quality of constructed latrines is: Wells and Sijbesma (2012) "Practical innovations for strengthening CLTS", Development in Practice 22(3): 417-426.
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  • Petra
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

Please note that Kamal Kar is not part of IDS but has his own organisation, the CLTS Foundation. At IDS, we run the CLTS Knowledge Hub which is a different and independent entity.
Petra Bongartz
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

Dear Petra,

Thanks for your post although I don't quite know what you are trying to say. Maybe I need to read in between the lines... What prompted you to say this in this thread? OK, I saw from a tweets today:

@EvMuench @IDS_UK The CLTS Knowledge Hub, IDS is different from Kamal's org CLTS Foundation which published the book. We had no involvement.


... that you want to distance yourself from that book by Kamal Kar (does anyone know: is it available for download somewhere?).

I really don't know the politics and perhaps this is not the right place to discuss it but I am just curious: Are there fundamental differences between the CTLS approach that is promoted by CLTS Foundation (where Kamal and Preetha work) and the CLTS Knowledge Hub (where you work)? This would be interesting to understand, I think.

Apart from the issue with Kamal's book: could you shed some light on the questions which have been raised by David, Christoph, Cor, Mougabe and Joe above? How do you reconcile the CLTS concept that villagers should find their own solutions, that nobody should prescrive anything to them versus the hesitation of "is it ethical to let them waste their time building a pour flush latrine if the hydrogeological conditions are such that it won't work longer than a couple of weeks" and when we know there is a potentially better solution available (which the villagers don't know yet though)?

Or would you say this is largely an academic debate because in 90% of the cases and regions where CLTS is applied, there is the sufficient space and the right soil and groundwater conditions to make pour-flush latrines a nice, long lasting type of toilet?

I would love for this to be an open, constructive, friendly conversation without people getting aggressive, overly negative or defensive about anything, as we are all in the same boat, learning together and just trying to help people live healthy, comfortable lives. :-)

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • PreethaP
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

Hello everyone.

I realise the discussion has gathered quite a bit of momentum and taken new turns since I last posted. Would have liked to engage more consistently, however we are out on the field most days of the month, and many times in remote areas with very weak/no internet connection at all; hence the delay in our responses is quite unavoidable. To begin, will try and address some of the larger questions raised in the discussions here, more details and responses to other questions will follow later.

1) David, as you have been rightly informed, the Minister of Madagascar has issued a statement, confirming that the audit conducted by the Ministry of Water ( in March 2014) is largely consistent with the results declared by FAA (Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement), the sanitation and hygiene programme implementing CLTS in Madagascar, which is supported by GSF. Updates on the recent developments taking place in Madagascar and several details of the programme and its findings are available on the WSSCC website .

2) We just want to reiterate that the book – ‘Promising Pathways’ is a process documentation of the best practices and innovations on CLTS in Madagascar and it is not an evaluation/verification of results study. We will share with you all the link to the pdf version of the book as soon as it is ready.

3) The first response that was posted by the CLTS Foundation on this thread focused on addressing specifically the question raised on ‘pit latrines’. It does not imply that CLTS means or advocates that communities necessarily start at the bottom of the sanitation ladder with pit latrines. In practice, CLTS facilitation takes place in a wide variety of situations of which only a very small number would be such that there is no familiarity with toilets at all. Where this familiarity exists, there the existing known sustainable modes and technologies will find favour and these will often be in tune with the terrain and other conditions. Furthermore, in a properly structured set up with good capacity building, CLTS facilitators are expected to be armed with material that enables a response of various options available to the community when it seeks answers to the questions of what technology to adopt to confine excreta safely after it has resolved to take collective action in this direction. It is entirely possible that existing toilet modes need change as with various forms of fixed point defecation that fail to confine excreta safely and there the facilitators responses post the community resolve, will be important.

In effect, the point is that CLTS is not oblivious to or anti the technology question. It is just not the question that has to be brought up at all when the initial discussion takes place in the community. Because bringing it up as an issue upfront means that the entire objective of making sanitation a felt community need is defeated. Also, any discussion on toilets and technology before igniting collective behaviour change among the community means that the sanitation question is being framed in advance by the outside facilitation and is therefore, an external concern and not internal to the community which has never felt it to be an issue of consequence anyway. CLTS has shown that the objective of making sanitation an internal concern – felt and owned by the community - can be met only by enabling the community to engage in self-analysis, realize their own situation and behaviour; understand consequences and resolve to take collective action at its own level. Safe confinement is a matter that the community is likely to bring up on its own during this process and toilet choices will be made from a range of options depending on legacy, stage of understanding, available material and capacity, affordability, sustainability, personal and community preference. Facilitators are expected to be able to assist in this process with information on choices, their advantages, disadvantages and costs. So here the technology aspect does come in very clearly. The point is that this technology question (or intervention) needs to be brought into the process at the right moment – after collective behaviour change of the community has been ignited and community demand for sanitation solutions has been created – and that the facilitator should not push for a particular mode when there are various options/modes that confine excreta safely in that particular context.

5) Finally, the point that Petra raised about Kamal Kar not being a part of IDS and having his own organisation CLTS Foundation, is stating a fact Elisabeth – this I believe is in response to David Alan’s first post in which he had referred to Kamal Kar as being a part of IDS – and so, I would not make this statement out to be anything more than what it is just simply stating.

Best regards,

Preetha Prabhakaran
On behalf of CLTS Foundation
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  • DavidAlan
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

Dear Preetha, thank you for your reply. Apologies for the brevity of this mail, but will not be able to comment more fully until later in the week.

You say that the Minister made a statement, which I don't doubt. This topic is based around the statement made by the UNICEF official questioning the figures used in the book. I have read the UNICEF official's email and it is quite categoric that the figures used in the book were incorrect. Can you confirm this is the case or not?

If the figures are incorrect then regardless of why the book was prepared, it has no validity.

I also think that both IDS and CLTS Foundation are splitting hairs by saying that KK is part of one and not the other. However it is dressed up the two organisations are linked by methodology at the very least – a methodology he and Roberts created.

Regards, David
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  • joeturner
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

I think I am correct in saying that David was referring to a blog written by KK for the IDS CLTS blog.

Doesn't KK regularly contribute to the IDS blog on CTLS?
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

I agree with David's views. David's concerns need to be addressed.

David: Could you kindly post the UNICEF's official email, you are referring to? - Thanks

F H Mughal
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  • Petra
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Re: Debate about effectiveness of CLTS, prompted by UNICEF official after book launch about CLTS in Madagascar

Thank you Preetha, and in response to Elisabeth,

I was indeed just wanting to clarify that the CLTS Foundation and Kamal are not synonymous with the CLTS Knowledge Hub at IDS. No further inbetween the lines meaning! And whilst both organisations work on CLTS, we do so in quite different ways and often with different views and opinions.
To further clarify, the methodology was created by Kamal Kar with WaterAid in Bangladesh. Robert and IDS only became involved afterwards.

No hair-splitting, just pointing out that the CLTS Knowledge Hub does not necessarily endorse what the CLTSF does and vice versa.We were not involved in the production or publication of the book on Madagascar and only found out about it just before it was being launched.

And Joe, no KK does not regularly contribute to the CLTS Blog or the website. There is actually not a single blog by KK on the CLTS website.

We have also seen the correspondence between UNICEF and various representatives of the Malagassy government. And in keeping with the requests made by UNICEF in this conversation and since without actually going to Madagascar and doing research it is difficult to say what is really happening on the ground, I cannot comment on what figures are correct. As anyone involved in WASH and or CLTS in any country knows is that getting reliable data is a challenge. There are many cases of over-reporting, data massaging to meet (often highly unrealistic) targets. Monitoring, verification and follow up are key issues for sustainability and most countries are still grappling with putting adequate systems in place. There is much to learn and much need for innovation. And an even bigger need for honest sharing of what is happening, ongoing reflection including admission of failures and creative thinking and collaboration on ways forward. Happy to engage in discussion of what might work, but like Elisabeth , I don't really like engaging in lengthy debates that are driven by blame, personal attack and which, in my opinion, especially in virtual fora like this one, do not go anywhere and take up a lot of valuable time.
Petra Bongartz
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