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Regional Workshop on CLTS in the South East Asia and Pacific Region

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Almost 60 participants from eight countries in the South East Asia and Pacific region gathered between the 9th and the 13th November 2009 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to talk about Community-led Total Sanitation.

The Regional Workshop on CLTS in the South East Asia and Pacific Region was perfectly timed: The 13th November marked National Sanitation Day in Cambodia, World Toilet Day is celebrated on the 19th November and EaSan, the East Asian Conference on Sanitation will take place in the Philippines in January 2010. The regional workshop was officially hosted by the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) of Cambodia and organised by a committee of organisations including IDS, Plan International, UNICEF, the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), WaterAid Australia, the Swiss Red Cross, Lien Aid and SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation).

Aims and objectives
The workshop aimed to take stock of CLTS in the region and to strengthen both practice and policy efforts. Sharing and learning from each other’s experiences was at the heart of the five days of activities in which participants from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor Leste and Vietnam, as well as two representatives from India and a number of international experts took part. The week also included the opportunity to learn from the Cambodian experience, with field visits to CLTS and other sanitation projects in Takeo and Kampong Speu provinces where the Swiss Red Cross, the Cambodian Ministry of Rural Development and Lien Aid are implementing CLTS. Read more about CLTS in Cambodia

Interviews with participants
Listen to representatives from organisations working with CLTS in Cambodia share their experiences by following the links below or read transcripts of the interviews

Lyn McLennan, Lien Aid

Heino Guellemann, Swiss Red Cross

Hilda Winarta, UNICEF

Research and evaluations
Practitioners and experts also shared the findings of recent research and evaluations, as well as work that had been carried out on related approaches and projects, for example the Total Sanitation and Sanitation Marketing project (TSSM) in Indonesia.

Learning from each other
As the event had brought together a broad range of organisations and players in the region, international and national NGOs, government staff and bilateral agencies, it provided an excellent opportunity for networking and helped to strengthen the dialogue between countries and organisations in the region. All participants appreciated the opportunity of sharing and learning from the experiences of others. Whilst the presentations and discussions showed the diversity of CLTS in different contexts and the innovative adaptations that are taking place, there was also agreement on a number of common issues and challenges faced by CLTS.

Key issues

Engaging government
One key issue that emerged was the importance of engaging government and much discussion focused on how to do this. ‘Seeing is believing’ was the key message here. Participants agreed that taking key government staff on exposure visits to countries with successful CLTS and allowing them to experience the triggering process can turn hardened sceptics into champions of the approach and change their mindsets from subsidy-based approaches to CLTS. Countries with more CLTS experience urged those who are still new to CLTS to find ways of getting government involved in order to achieve better success and strengthen the sustainability of CLTS programmes. Whilst the quality of facilitation and training of trainers is crucial to the success of the triggering phase of CLTS, participants concluded that institutional support is crucial for good post-triggering follow up and sustainability.

Post-triggering follow-up
Questions about how to ensure good post-triggering follow up and strategies for monitoring and evaluation also formed part of the discussions. Related to the issue of sustainability, it was recognised that keeping natural leaders and champions inspired and committed is key for long term sustainability and success of CLTS.

Demand and supply
There was a lively debate about the linkages between the creation of demand for sanitation through CLTS and the provision of the supply side, through sanitation marketing activities, with most country delegations agreeing that finding better ways to harmonise these approaches was vital for solving the rural sanitation.problem. CLTS is very good at rapidly creating demand for sanitation but in some contexts the supply side has not been able to keep up. When appropriate and affordable materials for construction are not been available, this can stall community enthusiasm and action towards achieving ODF.

Low cost technology options
Based on the sharing of experiences and as a result of what had been observed during the field visits, participants felt that there is an urgent need to work on making more sustainable low and medium cost latrine options available. Currently, in many cases, there seems to be a gap between the lower rungs of the sanitation ladder, ie the very simple dry pit latrines initially constructed by communities and the top rungs, eg expensive pour-flush toilets. Participants agreed that ‘the ladder needs more steps’. Affordable technologies for difficult environments, eg communities living in areas that flood in the rainy season, have rocky and sandy soil or a high water table also need more attention. Participants wondered if it would be possible to replicate the Bangladesh example where many different low cost options have been designed and cheap durable parts are available widely in the market.

Appropriate and low cost options are not only vital for sustainability but are also imperative if CLTS is to be inclusive. Repeatedly, the workshop brought up the question of how to facilitate involvement and participation of the poor and less able in communities from the start.

What knowledge do we need?
Participants identified several areas where more knowledge is needed, for example about what happens post ODF and what are the reasons that some people revert to open defecation? How to identify and support good facilitators and trainers to meet the emerging demand of CLTS training and capacity building was also seen as an area that needed more work.

Ways forward
Based on the exchange of knowledge, challenges and ideas, participants engaged in strategic thinking and planning on how to take CLTS further forward in their respective countries and organisations, drawing up country action plans for follow up. The idea of a regional secretariat or working group on CLTS, cutting across countries and organisations, was also put forward.

At the end of the workshop, participants agreed that the event had been very useful and that the learning that had taken place would enable them to better address emerging challenges and help to improve CLTS practice in their countries. Closing remarks from several participants recognised that the workshop represents a milestone both for rural sanitation and for CLTS in particular and expressed the hope that it would serve as a launching pad for a number of CLTS-related activities in the region.

Participants’ reflections about the workshop
Listen to workshop participants reflect on the workshop, their learning and the key challenges for CLTS or read transcripts of these interviews

Peter Dwan, WaterAid Australia

Jesse Shapiro, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program, Ministry of Health, Timor Leste

Fany Wedahuditama, WES UNICEF, Indonesia

Dinesh Bajracharya, WaterAid Timor Leste

Philippines delegation

Anupama Verma, Knowledge Links, India

Date: 18 November 2009
Papua New Guinea,
Timor Leste (East Timor),