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In 2007, UNICEF together with the Government of Zambia decided to pilot the CLTS approach in Choma district in Zambia’s Southern province, where the current sanitation coverage was 40%. Twelve communities were triggered by trained CLTS facilitators. Within the period of two months, sanitation coverage increased from 23% to 88% within a population of 4,536 and 75% of the villages were verified as open defecation free (ODF), surpassing the MDG target for sanitation in the pilot area in just two months. The role of traditional leaders was crucial in ensuring sustained action from communities and there was much enthusiasm among chiefs for scaling up the approach to all the communities in their respective chiefdoms.

In July 2008, invited by Plan, Kamal Kar held a training workshop in Chisamba, Central Province for staff from Plan Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Department for Community Development in Zambia, the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development in Malawi, UNICEF Malawi, the Ministry of Health of Mozambique, and CREPA(Centre Regional pour l’eau potable) Burkina Faso.

Since then much has happened. A national CLTS programme spearheaded by the National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing was launched in 2012 with support from DFID and UNICEF. Later, other partners, including SNV and Plan joined. The harmonized programme is now active in 73 districts of the 92 rural districts in Zambia. The Ministry has developed national guidelines for Community Led Total Sanitation, to be used for verification and certification of Open Defecation Free (ODF). The programme’s target was to reach 3 million people with improved sanitation by 2015. So far, over 2.5 million people have been reached.

The involvement of traditional leaders continues to be a strong component of implementation. Traditional leaders make community visits and ensure that their subjects attain and maintain ODF.

The programme is further supported by the recent introduction of a mobile-to-web monitoring system which is being used in 33 districts. Community volunteers send data through feature phones to all account holders at national, provincial and district level on a monthly basis. The real time data is used for evidence-based planning on all levels and contributes to accountability and progress.

One of the key principles of the Sanitation Programme is community self-financing which has provided scope for private sector participation. Provision of market based latrine options enables consumers to progress on the sanitation ladder. Integration of private sector actors also ensures sustainability (e.g designing of latrines that suit local conditions).

CLTS being integrated with other approaches such as Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) to sustain positive behaviours as well as addressing elements of governance in local authorities to ensure programmes are anchored in their systems for sustainability.

Zambia has made great progress- according to the latest JMP report (2015), 44% of population now have access to improved sanitation- and the target for attaining an ODF Zambia is now has been set for 2020. This will mean that every Zambian has an adequate latrine: a latrine that has hand-washing facilities, provides privacy, and ensures safe disposal of faecal matter.

(August 2015)