Get our free book on rainwater now - To Catch the Rain.
Community-led total sanitation
Community-led total sanitation (CLTS) is a grassroots approach to sanitation developed in Bangladesh and now active in more than 15 countries. It follows the philosophy of participatory rural appraisal, or PRA.
CLTS focuses on "triggering" communities to improve their own sanitation systems and become "Open Defecation Free" (ODF). The initial "triggering" is done by holding training sessions, transect walks (looking for areas where faeces are found and tracing their path into food and water supplies), meetings and activities for children and students. The idea is to involve the whole community, instil a sense of disgust at the practice of open defecation and enable the community to develop an action plan to end it. After the initial triggering, the community are left to construct their own latrines. No hardware or designs are provided, though advice and help in locating materials can be. After a while, external evaluators return to inspect the village and confirm whether it is indeed ODF. If so, a certification ceremony is held and neighbouring communities are invited to share good practice and put pressure on them to become ODF free as well. This sense of competition and collective pressure is also encouraged within villages, with neighbours encouraging each other to achieve the collective goal of ODF status. CLTS is a low-cost methodology requiring no hardware subsidy: the main input is good facilitation of the participatory process - the training of trainers and planning of programmes .
CLTS was developed by Kamal Kar, an advocate of community participation in development, in Bangladesh. He has criticised the lack of success of NGO's in Bangladesh, saying "It is difficult to find even 100 villages among nearly 85,000 that are 100 per cent sanitised and free from open defecation."  He has also been involved in low cost sanitation programs.  Kamal Kar is a development consultant based in Kolkata, India, who has worked with many national and international agencies on innovative methodologies for development in Asia and Africa.
Kamal Kar introduced PRA (participatory rural appraisal) in 1993 (to Tanzania? Johansson, 2000). CLTS, (Community-led total sanitation) was developed in 2000 by Kar with his colleagues, WaterAid and Village Education Resources Centre (VERC) (a Bangladesh NGO). (PLA Notes 49: Decentralisation and Community-based Planning, p31)
Triggering programmes are tailored to take account of local culture and customs. Typical activities include "transect walks" (tours of the village locating open defecation sites and tracing paths of contamination via water or animals), discussions, demonstrations of possible technologies, surveys (which can be carried out by local school children) and the formulation of an "action plan" to become defecation free. The idea is for the community to discover the ways in which OD is endangering their health and therefore to motivate them to change things.
During the post-triggering phase, the community are left to build facilities. No designs are imposed and each household builds a latrine according to their own skills, resources and needs. However, households may collaborate, for example with masons providing slabs or lining in return for their pit being dug . They may also improve community sanitation infrastructure such as drainage channels.
The certification is done by a visiting assessor, who can be from the government or an NGO. There is no formalised procedure for certification, but the process typically involves transect walks visiting areas previously identified as OD sites, interviews and house visits. When the assessor is satisfied that the community is ODF, a ceremony is held celebrating the fact. Stickers may be issued to OD households, t-shirts printed, articles written for local press, signs erected etc. The aim is to instill a sense of pride in ODF status to ensure the community stays ODF. Particularly successful communities are used as "laboratories" for others to see and learn from.
However, as certification procedures are neither standardised nor monitored, communities can be certified as ODF when they are not. This is especially likely when ODF certification is is linked to subsidies or targets .
Monitoring via SMS
In October 2009 the Total Sanitation and Sanitation Marketing (TSSM) project piloted a service based on text messages (SMS) for sanitation monitoring system in East Java, Indonesia. The system is used to improve the flow of information about the CLTS triggering process from community to district level, to enable Indonesians to improve monitoring results of the CLTS program. 
- Wikipedia:Community-led total sanitation
- Wikipedia:Participation (decision making)
- Wikipedia:Farmer Field School - another grassroots development program.
- Handbook on Community Led Total Sanitation, Kar and Chambers, 2008
- Water: either too much or too little, Environmental Articles Archive: Water Resources, July 2004.
- Habitat Debate, Volume 9, no. 3, September 2003.
- partner organizations listed under Acknowledgements, 2005, p19.
- Low Cost Sanitation: a guide to practical experience, John Pickford, Practical Action, 1995.
-  WaterAid Global CLTS Synthesis Report, 2009
- Total Sanitation Progress via SMS in East Java. The project is funded by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank.
- Kar, Kamal (2003). Subsidy or Self-respect? Participatory Total Community Sanitation in Bangladesh. IDS Working Paper, 50 pages. Free in PDF format.
- Kar, Kamal and Pasteur, Katherine (2005). Subsidy of Self-Respect? Community Led Total Sanitation. An Update on Recent Developments. IDS Working Paper, 68 pages. Free in PDF format.