The CLTS Knowledge Hub has changed to The Sanitation Learning Hub and we have a new website https://sanitationlearninghub.org/. Please visit us here - it would be great to stay in contact.

The CLTS Knowledge Hub website is no longer being updated you can access timely, relevant and action-orientated sanitation and hygiene resources and information at the new site.

The CLTS Knowledge Hub: Strengthening and broadening CLTS at scale

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IDS has been working in support of CLTS for over a decade. During this time CLTS has become an international movement for which IDS is the recognised knowledge hub. The Hub is staffed by Petra Bongartz (Strategy, Communication and Networking Officer), Robert Chambers (Research Associate), Naomi Vernon (Programme Officer), Jamie Myers (Research Officer) and Stacey Townsend (Programme Officer).


The overarching aim of the CLTS Knowledge Hub is to contribute to the dignity, health and wellbeing of children, women and men in the developing world who currently suffer the consequences of inadequate, limited or no sanitation and poor hygiene.


The CLTS Knowledge Hub is dedicated to supporting the scaling up of inclusive CLTS and rural sanitation approaches with quality and sustainability through timely, rapid and adaptive sharing and learning.  Since its inception, it has been strongly committed to close collaboration with practitioners, policy-makers, researchers and communities to support the sustainability and scalability of inclusive CLTS in sanitation programmes. The Hub strives to achieve this by learning about, understanding, promoting and sharing good practices, ideas and innovations in sanitation and hygiene programmes. As new and emerging challenges change the sanitation and hygiene landscape, the Hub seeks to identify and analyse these challenges and their impact and influence on communities. The Hub proactively co-generates and co-creates practical knowledge, identifies and shares innovations, makes linkages between organisations and people, and supports champions. The Hub seeks to make all information widely and quickly accessible.  While seeking to facilitate South-South exchanges, and the generation of insights leading to practical outputs, we synthesise, analyse and publish key materials, striving to be nimble, relevant and responsive. We provide spaces for reflection, continuous learning and knowledge exchange and seek to keep the CLTS and WASH community well connected, energised and informed.

Increasingly, this remit is expanding to include learning, monitoring and documentation of the integration and adaptation of different approaches and ideas in WASH with the objective to go beyond any one approach and to support innovation and good practice of participatory, community-centred programming that leads to sustainable and inclusive sanitation. Over the last few years we have become less and less focused on the traditional CLTS model, as it is described in the 2008 CLTS Handbook, and we now see our role as relevant to many other areas of sanitation.

What we do

Our intention is to support inclusive CLTS and rural sanitation approaches with quality and sustainability at scale. To this end, we engage in the following activities:
1) Action learning, rapid research, networking and dissemination.
2) Co-convening workshops for sharing and learning.
3) The CLTS website and bi-monthly newsletter, many of whose subscribers are directly engaged with CLTS as practitioners on the ground or as managers, policy-makers, consultants or researchers.
4) Publications and dissemination, including Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights. This series offers practical guidance on new methods and approaches, and thinking on broader issues and emerging topics in the sector.
5) Research, advocacy and policy engagement in India, home to over half the world’s open defecators.

We proactively co-generate and co-create practical knowledge, find out about and share innovations, and seek to make all this widely and quickly accessible. Through making linkages between organisations and between people, and encouraging and supporting champions, we seek to add to the energy and momentum behind CLTS. We co-convene learning and sharing workshops collaboratively with other organisations. We seek to facilitate South-South exchanges, and the generation of insights leading to practical outputs. We synthesise, analyse and publish, and fund translations of key materials. We strive to be nimble and relevant and continuously alert in spotting how to make a difference.

CLTS and the changing landscape of WASH

The WASH landscape has been changing subtly but noticeably over the last few years. CLTS has proved most effective to date in tackling the sanitation challenge at scale, becoming more and more accepted, integrated into national policies, and used in a wide variety of contexts by a multitude of actors. However, the last few years have challenged the sector to look beyond the ambitions of the MDGs and examine who is not being reached by efforts to increase access to sanitation. Coinciding with or perhaps being instigated by the SDG’s focus on universal coverage and reaching the poorest and most vulnerable, the complexity of the challenges facing the WASH sector and with it, CLTS, have become clear. We see the sector as a whole recognising the need to become more diverse and cross-cutting in response to this complexity, with general acceptance of the need for a menu of different approaches that can either be integrated with one another or used in isolation. More and more programmes and professionals are moving towards not being proponents of one approach over the other, but are instead arguing for the need to look closely at the context and situation to inform decisions about what approach, or cocktail of approaches and interventions, to use.  This is in contrast to previous years when there were tensions and strong views for or against one approach or the other, e.g. camps of those who were for CLTS, those who were proponents of sanitation marketing, PHAST, etc. This has led the Hub to expand its focus from CLTS in its original form to looking also at other participatory, community-centred programming that leads to sustainable and inclusive sanitation.

History and Funding

Our work on CLTS, including the CLTS website (in its previous versions) was initially as part of the three year (2006-2009) DFID-funded research, action learning and networking project Going to Scale? The Potential of Community-led Total Sanitation. Until 31st December 2009, the action learning and networking aspect of this work continued as the project Sharing Lessons, Improving Practice: Maximising the potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation  funded by Irish Aid From 1st January 2010 to the 30th September 2014, this work was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Currently (2014-2019), the CLTS Knowledge Hub is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency Sida.