Core fecal counts
This step involves determining and discussing the volume of fecal matter accumulated in a village. Here the facilitators calculate the amount of human excreta being produced by everyone every day. The figure is multiplied by the number of individuals to produce a single numeral for the entire community. The number is converted into truckloads to provide a vivid graphic visual that surprises the community members.
The facilitator asks the villagers for a glass of drinking water. Instead of drinking it, the facilitator pulls a hair, dips it in the excreta and then back in the glass of water. Everyone is in turn asked if they would drink it. An emphatic “no” follows soon. Facilitators point out that the flies that sit on their food have six serrated hair-like feet. This information helps community members recognize that they indeed eat food after fanning off the flies sitting on top of it.
Generally, communities react strongly to this training and immediately try to find ways to change the practice of OD through their own effort. They are encouraged to use local materials to construct kuchha (temporary) toilets.
The next part of the CLTS toolkit is an intense follow-up over the period of 1 week to 1 month. The facilitators identify the men and women of the village who emerge as natural leaders during the training and an entire array of diverse and innovative penalties are devised to “name and shame” those who repeatedly don’t use the toilets.
Over time, this behavior change communication has proven to make the communities accustomed to using the toilets and once the people get used to the comfort, convenience and safety they tend not to revert to the practice of open defecation.
The high incidence of OD combined with high population density makes for a lethal mix so far as the nutrition (or, malnutrition) status of children is concerned. Given the conundrum of extant open defecation in India, and more specifically in UP, the need to successfully address it cannot be over-emphasized. The gravity of the sanitation problem demands serious attention with robust, long-lasting, and replicable solutions. CLTS is a cost-effective method that mobilizes the social norms in the community, motivating community members to become ODF.
The author expresses her gratitude to Tata Cornell Institute (TCI) at Cornell University for their gracious funding for this study and Grameen Development Services in U.P, India for their unfaltering support.
By Payal Seth
Payal Seth (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a PhD Student and a Tata-Cornell Scholar in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.