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

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  • christoph
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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 that reply and David thank you for bringing that point up.

Even in the light that some mentioned that (some of) the Forum are criticizing too much the upscaling experiences (forum.susana.org/forum/categories/142-up...ation-marketing#9223)....
what stresses me is that for some reason the same errors are forced to be committed again and again.

The discussion around the linked example as well as the example mentioned by Preetha is referring to high groundwater tables as a reason for problems with pit latrines or poor flush.

Preetha cites Kamal Kar

As Kamal Kar often says, let us allow the community to take their time to rationalize and choose their technology with improved sanitation behaviour rather than suggesting/prescribing technological prototypes to them from the very beginning.

Is that not a bit cynic?

I understand fully and share the idea that often people have to feel an error before they are able to understand that something does not work. But for sanitation? With people who really have to do a very, very high effort to build a latrine, just do loose it 3 -4 month later (see post of Preetha)? In order to learn?

AGAIN and AGAIN - WHY???!!!

With almost the same effort you could build something that lasts - what is so wrong about showing a better solution? How can we - "experts" just look and see how the none experts (with no knowledge – therefore non expert) try to solve their problem of sanitation. How cynical is it, to preach the end of ODF in a high water table area without showing in practice the problem of latrines which are not build properly. So why not work on CLTS and at the same time show a solution that is affordable and suitable for the situation AND showing the problem with doing a simple latrine? Obviously that is not done when many of the latrines fail after 3-4 month. I also find that shocking (as David) and we not even came to the subject of proper handling of filled up latrines in high water table areas.

Please knock me down if I got something wrong, I would be glad if I got something wrong or misinterpreted something do to my lack of experience with CLTS - because it would give me more hope.

Regards Christoph
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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

Thank you Preetha, that is a very extensive reply.

So that means that the statement made by KK concerning pits collapsing within the first year is correct, as you state (in one instance you state 3-4 months). This still shocks me regardless of the background reasons you give. I assume there is no follow up data as to exactly how many people dig a replacement pit, and this would seem quite useful to have.

You mention pits collapsing in high water table areas. Surely pit latrines shouldn't be encouraged in high water table areas because of the danger of disease during the rainy season and the possible contamination of aquifers?

I am also interested in what data you have for how many people move up the sanitation ladder? This is an oft-quoted statement, but as yet I have seen no real hard evidence that this actually happens.

Can you also shed some light on the controversy between figures used in the book that were refuted by the Madagascan Minister?

Regards, David
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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

Dear David,

Apologies for this late response. Thank you for your question on the pit latrines and for ‘triggering’ a discussion on this very important topic. There seems to be a fair amount of misunderstanding or misconception of the issue of pit latrines, and we would like to thank you for raising this point and giving us the opportunity to engage with this discussion. The statement that you draw attention to, as being made by Dr. Kamal Kar, has in fact been quoted out of context. His colleagues (including me) from CLTS Foundation were present during the session when this particular point was brought out by Dr. Kar. However, it was made in the context of a few other things that he said in response to a question on sustainability and movement along the sanitation ladder, which are important to understand in order to grasp the totality of his point. We’d like to take this opportunity to elaborate on these, focusing on the message that he was trying to convey.

Dr. Kamal Kar was stressing on the fact that CLTS is outcome-focused on collective behavior change, which is spontaneous and led by the local community themselves. In other words, if triggered successfully, collective local decision to initiate behaviour change to stop the practice of OD is taken spontaneously and willingly by the community, and it is not guided or influenced by any expectations of free/ subsidized toilets, cash incentives, rewards or help of any kind offered by outsiders. As an instant and simple step forward towards stopping ‘fecal-oral transmission’, often the community decides to build pit latrines, as this does not involve any external inputs, financial provisioning or technological prescriptions. Simple pit latrines built with locally available low-cost materials is effective as it is a manifestation of the sense of immediate urgency felt by the community and the collective momentum created through the triggering exercise. If this powerful collective community energy is not interrupted by prescriptions, directives, offers and is allowed to grow on its own from its early stage, it paves the way for locally-made simple pit latrines to move up along the sanitation ladder. As the community experiences visible positive impacts on environmental cleanliness, privacy, convenience, safety and eventually on their health in the quickest possible time, the need for better toilets is felt more seriously than ever before. The conventional ‘supply-driven toilet construction’ story turns into a ‘demand-driven investment by households’ phenomena.

Now coming to the specific point that you bring out, what Kamal Kar was trying to say was that in areas with high rainfall, sandy or loose soil and/or a higher water table, it is often seen that pit latrines do not sustain for a long period of time. However, what has occured silently during the time between construction and collapse of the first simple pit latrine built by the triggered community, is the gradual transformation of the OD behaviour to that of no-OD. It has often been seen in many countries that women and children refused to return to the ‘bush’ in places where the simple pit latrines lasted for at least 3 to 4 months. Demand and pressure was created on the men or heads of households either to repair or to build new latrines. The pace of household investments on new latrines and movement upwards along the sanitation ladder depends on factors like access to markets, availability of cash at home, remoteness, seasonality of migration, flooding and inundation etc. Wide range of CLTS experiences from all over the world are available that reflect on how communities adjust themselves to cope with the collapse of their first simple pit latrines but do not return to OD.

Also when it comes to the question of sustainability, an important point to remember is that once it is witnessed that behaviour change within a community has started taking place, encouraging technology innovations and making available an affordable range of low-cost and user-friendly sanitary hardware becomes important and critical. As Kamal Kar often says, let us allow the community to take their time to rationalize and choose their technology with improved sanitation behaviour rather than suggesting/prescribing technological prototypes to them from the very beginning. The introduction of technology earlier than desired often runs into the danger of externally driven and externally controlled sanitation coverage rather than handing over the power to the communities for sustained behaviour change that has proven effective in many countries across the globe.

Hope this explanation has been useful. We will be very happy to respond to any more follow-up questions or thoughts on this.

On behalf of CLTS Foundation,
Preetha Prabhakaran

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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

As an update to my question, I have been sent a copy of the email that prompted it. It has been sent to me in confidence, but the issue surrounds the numbers quoted as 'triggered' in the book are far higher than those believed to be the case on the ground.

For me this is interesting because in Sierra Leone we have visited villages that have been deemed ODF and where people are still open defecating or, in one case, denied they were ever visited in the first place. I wonder if anybody has a solution of how to monitor numbers correctly, to check that training has taken place and what about follow up work, how is that handled? This latter item ties in to my earlier comment about pits collapsing within the first year. What happens then? Who is researching whether new pits are being dug and whether the community stays ODF .

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

I understand there has been a robust debate between Kamal Kar, IDS (www.communityledtotalsanitation.org/) and a senior UNICEF official concerning CLTS (community led total sanitation) and its effectiveness. This was subsequent to Kamal Kar's book launch in Stockholm.

Does anybody have information on the basis of the debate, or where such a debate is taking place?

I am aware that Kamal Kar said at World Water Week that the majority of pits dug because of triggering, collapse within the first year, which personally I find quite shocking.

I would be grateful for any comments.

David


+++++++++++++++++

Note by moderator (EvM):
Information about the mentioned book launch was received by e-mail on 20 August 2014 (emphasis added by me):

Greetings from CLTS Foundation, Kolkata !

We are happy to inform you that CLTS Foundation is organising a book launch jointly with WSSCC at the World Water Week in Stockholm this year. It gives us great pleasure to invite you to this event on September 2nd, 2014 from 1300 -1400 hours, to be held at the Press Room in Stockholmsmassan.

As you are aware, CLTS Foundation has been actively engaged in providing process support, capacity building and policy advice to several countries in Asia and Africa over the last few years. This has led to the intensification of CLTS implementation and scaling up of activities in many countries.

While several of these countries have made considerable progress, Madagascar especially has witnessed unprecedented success, with the country achieving till date close to 10,000 ODF villages in a short period of only three and a half years. The unique mechanisms and processes that have led to Madagascar's progress have been captured and documented by the CLTS Foundation team in a book called 'Promising Pathways' which will be launched during the Water Week in Stockholm. This event will be attended by ministers from Madagascar and senior officials from WSSCC/GSF among other key stakeholders of sanitation. It will be great to have you and your colleagues with us at the event.

Attached with this email is an official invite for the book launch. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Best Regards,

CLTS Foundation team, Kolkata


----
CLTS Foundation
CB-88, Salt Lake City,
Kolkata-700064
West Bengal
India
Tel: +91 33 4065 1168

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