I have spent the last two days on the back of a moto flying through the hills and down the rutted paths of the Mzimba district. Mr. Chuma, the water monitoring assistant (WMA) I am working with, and I visited seven villages to set up times for implementing Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and the Malawi WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) Movement Initiative. Both programs are similar in terms of the desired outcomes: empowering communities to adopt the use of latrines with a drop-hole cover. 
 
 
CLTS is based on the principle that once a community realizes that they are eating their own and their neighbor’s shit, they will take collective action to improvise latrines and ensure that the whole community moves towards becoming open defecation free (ODF). CLTS follows a ‘hands-off’ facilitation style which allows communities members to make their own conclusions about their sanitation situation, no matter the result, and CLTS does not provide any hardware subsidy, relying on the ingenuity and innovation of the community to build and design their latrines. CLTS began and was successful in many communities in Bangladesh and has since spread to different communities in Asia and Africa.     
 
The Malawi WASH Movement Initiative (MWMI), like CLTS, comes from the idea that for sanitation programs (or development projects in general) to be successful, the community must feel ownership over it and thoroughly understand the benefits thus wanting to change their behavior. The MWMI works with children in communities and attempts to, with more of an external push than with CLTS, get them excited about sanitation: adopting the use of latrines and practicing hand washing with soap at home. The children make up ‘pro-sanitation’ song to sing in their communities and visit each of the houses in their village to access their sanitation condition. The children then tell the households that they will be returning for another visit to see if any improvements have been made. The idea, like with CLTS, is that after openly discussing open defecation, people will feel disgusted and ashamed with themselves and will take it upon themselves to change their practices. 
 
It will be interesting to see how these programs are implemented and the opportunities/challenges they present in different villages. I am encouraged by the philosophies each program is based upon, I just wonder how this will translate into actual implementation. We start with the MWMI next week, so I’ll try and keep you up to date!
 
colleen.