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Talking shit: is Community‐Led Total Sanitation a radical and revolutionary approach to sanitation?

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Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a new approach to sanitation that has been widely adopted by international and national development organizations and national governments and implemented in 56 countries in the global South. Using participatory methods, it forces primarily rural communities to recognize that their practice of open defecation causes sickness and disease in their area and ‘triggers’ them to take action, ensuring that every household builds at least a pit latrine so that the community becomes open defecation free (ODF). In contrast to past approaches, one of its main tenets is strictly no subsidies of finance or materials. In the absence of monitoring and evaluation systems, it is not clear whether its immediate achievements are sustainable. In addition to questioning its sustainability, it is essential to examine CLTS through the analytical lens of power dynamics and human rights. While there is a rich practitioner‐focused literature, there are few critical studies of this nature. Drawing on literature from a range of disciplines, this article deliberates how CLTS can be understood in terms of the concepts of rights, agents, and community. It questions whether, in the case of conflicting rights, the communal right to sanitation may justify compromising an individual's right to dignity. It also asks how we balance the right to dignity against the socioeconomic right to sanitation. Finally it questions the community led nature of CLTS, and suggests that external agents retain a level of responsibility for responding to any human rights infringements. WIREs Water 2015, 2:9–20. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1055 This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Water, Health, and Sanitation Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented

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Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented
Engineering Water > Water, Health, and Sanitation

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