IFGH 2012: An Evaluation of the Relevance, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Impact and Sustainability of the Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Approach in Liberia

January 29, 2012


Authors: Phillips F.

Author Affiliations:Liberia CSO WASH Working Group

Option 2– Lessons from the field; project and programme evaluations; and syntheses or analyses Presented as – Poster


Sanitation is a basic human need, a Human Right and the greatest medical achievement in nearly two centuries; however, sanitation continues to be relatively unappreciated in the plethora of issues facing low-income countries and continues to be under-resourced by donors and governments. Liberia, one of the poorest countries in the world, has recently endorsed Community-Led Total Sanitation as an approach to increasing sanitation coverage and reducing health burdens in rural areas. Through the use of this innovative low-cost approach facilitators ignite communities to take action; to overcome sanitation issues; and ultimately take development into their own hands. Liberia, however, is a unique context – recently out of war with a heavily donor dependent population.


This evaluation, using a descriptive, qualitative, cross-sectional study design, sought to establish the overall effectiveness, impact and sustainability of CLTS within the Liberian context, through OECD/DAC criteria for evaluating development assistance.


The evaluation identified numerous issues that are affecting the ability to achieve sustained open defecation free communities, none more so than the facilitators involved and the monitoring of communities, but also the lack of harmonisation among initiating organisations, defragmented approach, commitment and resources available to the government. Further, a focus on attaining open defecation free communities has detracted from the overall aim of facilitating sustained behaviour change and has resulted in low utilisation of latrines.

Lessons learned:

CLTS, in Liberia, can be an effective tool, not only to increase sanitation demand and use of facilities but also to overcome the dependency of the population on external actors, enabling communities to identify their own needs and collectively take action to better their lives. However, without ensuring technically skilled facilitators and continuous monitoring and support to communities, this process is unlikely to achieve established goals, let alone enable communities to move up the sanitation ladder.


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