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Applicability of community-led total sanitation in South Africa: a case-study experience of opportunities and challenges
Expanded Title:Many developing regions experience growing sanitation backlogs despite increased state investment in basic service delivery programmes. Poor sanitation continues to feature in South Africa where backlog realities confront local government, while human settlement and water services departments pursue more effective approaches and strategies. In particular, the mandate to provide access to adequate basic sanitation to all citizens remains a daunting task to many municipal departments across the countries, which are responsible for services delivery. At the same time the demand-driven approach of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) has been gathering momentum in many African, Asian, Middle East and South American countries that continue to suffer challenging backlogs. Although CLTS has evolved in diverse country settings, this approach remains anchored in stimulating community decisions to take collective action, with local initiative as the basis for sanitation rather than dependence on service delivery. Mobilizing communities to take action without depending on subsidies, hygiene education or toilet delivery appears to stand in contradiction to current approaches in South Africa. Nevertheless, space was created in a case study setting to explore the extent to which the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach might rejuvenate the demand side of sanitation in a supply driven context. The premise of this study is that community responsibility and support from their surrounding institutional environment have equivalent bearing upon the success of sanitation programmes. Derived from a comprehensive critique of failing blueprint approaches to development interventions in general. The case study found that while sanitation practitioners in training viewed CLTS as an institutional project (of IDS, WRC or CPUT), the Natural Leaders stated that the project belongs to them and that stopping open defecation was a community initiative. Reporting back on Triggering by teams of sanitation practitioners and officials, as CLTS Facilitators in training, was markedly less enthusiastic and in stark contrast to community enthusiasm. Many learner-facilitators responded to mobilisation as if it were a purely educational exercise and Community Action Plans as dependent on toilets being provided by government. Retaining a conservative position on the helplessness of the poor rather than altering any previously held notions of community dependency, despite the evidence, may be understood as endemic to the subsidy environment. On the other hand, research indicates that opportunities for deepening understanding and reflective learning by sanitation practitioners who work with municipalities should be further explored. Integrating CLTS into the demand side of basic sanitation provision creates various spaces to complement the South African model of the municipal sanitation function more effectively than does a didactic educational service. Reconsideration of the dominant blueprint for state driven roll-out of costly hardware subsidies, with contractors as suppliers and consultants as educators, is recommended where conditions are most favorable. As opposed to counting pits dug and toilets constructed as sanitation delivery, key benefits of the CLTS approach are confirmed as: • household level responsibility for hygienic behavior, use and maintenance of latrines is achievable through Triggering; • reduction of costly and short-term external educational inputs that are of dubious value to sustaining behavior change; • a wider spread of subsidy benefits may be achieved by investing in Triggering neighborhoods to climb up an adjusted sanitation ladder where people have step onto lower rungs on their own volition. Where budget shortfalls constrain roll out plans, Municipalities may be prompted to consider support for community-driven sanitation where there is none and where delivery of VIPs is unlikely within 2-3 years. Facilitators that municipalities may readily work with, such as Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), may chart progress towards achieving Open Defecation Free neighborhoods prior to supply of hardware, as part of their state sponsored work. Potential opportunities for un-serviced communities to take initiative, as an alternative to passively awaiting sanitation provision through government procedures, have emerged sufficiently in the first case study to suggest that further exploration in different settings will be instructive. At the same time, challenges that may deter people from acting on their own behalf or from making constructive contributions to their own sanitation are equally illuminating and should continue to be the subject of pilot study. Experience in the case study suggests that the CLTS approach offers significant assistance within South African conditions of subsidy expectations by rejuvenating community decision-making and supporting community-driven actions to overcome resistance to long term community ownership of their sanitation. Insights gained from reflecting on this first experience of applying CLTS in South Africa, may shed further light on community, institutional and programmatic issues facing diverse sanitation backlog settings across the country.
Date Published:01/06/2013
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Drinking water - Water supply, Sanitation - On site sanitation
Document Keywords:Policy and regulation
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:2088/P/13
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0429-8
Authors:Lagardien A; Cousins D; Sabela-Rikhotso P; Ngaye N
Project No:K5/2088
Organizations:Community water supply and sanitation unit Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Document Size:2 932 KB
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