“Kaka,” a vulgar and repulsive Krio word for shit, set the tone for a consultative conference on community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).
The word became the most apt and correct word used to describe a campaign against open defecation in communities which UNICEF is sponsoring.
Dr Kamal Kar, who is the consultant hired by UNICEF to introduce the campaign in Sierra Leone, told the conference held over the weekend at the Bank Complex at Kingtom that his method to combat open defecation was by Community Led Total Sanitation”
He explained that he was using the bottom top approach to implement this campaign, and pointed out that since its emergence in 2000, “CLTS has been spreading slowly but surly in at least six different countries in Asia and three in Africa”.
He said, “the programme is a non-subsidy approach and local communities’ collective action in rapidly ensuring open defecation-free status”.
These communities, he explained, were helped to realize that open defecation would lead to diarrhea and other diseases which increase infant morbidity, in other words they trigger the community to action.
Dr Karr continued that the communities in turn came up with innovations and local diversity in developing latrine models of implementation and also monitoring to ensure an open defecation-free society
He pointed out that the CLTS method challenged mindsets and practices which had been normal conventional wisdom which was of the notion that sanitation was expensive and many could not afford it.
He stated that, “CLTS is based on the premise that subsidies can slow and inhibit the spread of sanitation, and advocates expenditure not on hardware, but on training and supporting facilitators. The poorest people are assisted not by outside subsidy, which is vulnerable to capture by local elites, but by those who are better off in their own community who recognize a common interest in stopping open defecation by everyone,” said Kamal.
Already some communities in Sierra Leone have started a pilot phase to rid their communities of Open Defecation- Baw Baw, Kalangba, Mile 13 Matatu Village in Port Loko and Ogoo Farm in Freetown.
Explaining to participants which included the ministries of Health, Energy and Power, DFID, UNICEF, European Union, NGOs dealing with water and sanitation and UNICEF, the leaders of the community project said they all had embraced the CLTS programme and had taken their destiny in their own hands; that they could not wait for NGOs to build toilets for them whilst their feaces continue to pollute their water sources.
They promised that by March 20, the World Water Day, their various communities would be “kaka free.”
Many NGOs at the conference like Goal and Plan accepted that CLTS was phenomenal and better than the previous methods they were using to ensure proper sanitation in communities.
They agreed that they would also embrace the new method introduced by Dr Karr.
International organizations, local NGOs, and the line ministries at the conference said they would in turn look at how to institutionalize CLTS and also develop a Water and Sanitation (Watsan) policy which would encompass CLTS.
Richard Hogg, the head of DFID in Sierra Leone, stated that they would support government on water and sanitation and that they would be announcing a huge package for the government to help with water and sanitation.
Geert Capalaerere, the Country Director for UNICEF, made similar pledge.