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PLA 61: Tales of shit: Community-Led Total Sanitation in Africa

guest-​edited by Petra Bongartz, Samuel Musembi Musyoki, Angela Milligan, Holly Ashley

Journal, 240 pages

This special issue looks at Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS), a tool to help communities take collective action to improve sanitation.

Where do you shit? In developing countries, the answer to this question may determine whether you live or die. Around 2.6 billion people do not have access to a toilet. Instead, they defecate in the open. The consequences are dire. Shit carries disease and is a major killer. Lack of sanitation also impacts on general well-being, human dignity and personal freedom. Yet many sanitation programmes have failed to convince rural communities of the benefits of good hygiene.

This has begun to change with a radical new participatory approach - Community-Led Total Sanitation. This has encouraged millions to tackle the problems caused by open defecation through a participatory process called ‘triggering’. Using Participatory Rural Appraisal tools, communities analyse their hygiene habits and practices, and mobilise to take collective action to sanitise their environments. Following its development and spread in Asia, CLTS is now being piloted in Africa.

This issue of Participatory Learning and Action draws on a growing body of experience, and includes case studies from East, Southern and West Africa.

The resources section highlights key publications, websites and online communities for CLTS practitioners.

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