Sanitation Movement Gains Ground in Pakistan

Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), initiated as a pilot in Mardan district of Pakistan, four years ago, is now spreading like fire among villages as well as development agencies in the country. CLTS represents a strategic shift in focus from supporting toilet construction for individual households, to one that seeks to create open defecation free (ODF) villages through behavioral change in the whole community.

This approach has encouraged development agencies to link funding or incentives to ODF status, which is spurring the movement. For instance, the Khushal Pakistan Fund of US$ 200 million has tied its infrastructure investment in the country to the ODF status of villages. Similarly, in the country’s Punjab province, CLTS has been incorporated in the Chief Ministers Program of US $ 8.3 million.   Khushal Pakistan Fund’s (KPF) CEO Mr. Arif Yakub has inserted a clause in its agreement with the Rural Support Program that villages where RSPs are working with KPF funds must achieve ODF status by the end of the project period. "The outcome focus approach of CLTS can make a difference in rural set up of Pakistan and if the communities could address their sanitation problem through CLTS this will be a big achievement,” according to Mr. Yakub. All this, while abiding by the CLTS principles of bringing about behavioral change without subsidy.

The Rural Support Program Network will now provide financial support to five CLTS projects in all four provinces of the country.   The CLTS approach effectively motivates communities to take collective action, often supported by the government and other agencies. This is achieved by making them recognize that all are negatively affected as a consequence of the unsanitary practices of some. This simple, but effective strategy has spread from Bangladesh to India, and is gaining ground in Indonesia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Nepal and elsewhere. The CLTS pilot in Mardan was supported by UNICEF. 

Indeed, Pakistan has taken the bull by the horns, and the first batch of community activists trained in the CLTS approach from all four provinces of the country is ready to hit the road. CLTS programs held in June 2007, in various provinces, provided orientation and training for government officials, nazims (mayors), tehsil municipal officials and provincial NGOs. Participants shared insights and experiences; they were encouraged to identify supportive partners, and understand how their approach fits in the national policy framework. Above all, they were convinced that achieving defecation-free villages was certainly possible—and within reach.  

The programs were organized by WSP-SA, supported by the IRSP. More than 100-150 "barefoot community consultants" from the 89,000 community organizations were identified and trained in Pakistan to trigger CLTS.   Indeed, the South Asia Conference on Sanitation- II (SACOSAN-II), the regional conference on sanitation held last year, had already brought sanitation on the front burner in Pakistan, especially at the federal level. The recently approved National Sanitation Policy also provides impetus to the movement, which in turn, has guided the establishment of provincial sanitation strategies in all four provinces. Federal and provincial governments will now support municipal officials, NGOs and other stakeholders in the implementation.

The CLTS movement is certainly catching on. What’s more it holds tremendous potential for achieving health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) relating to infant mortality and various diseases in developing countries.

Contact Name: 
Masroor Ahmad
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