May 2021

How Do Rural Communities Sustain Sanitation Gains? Qualitative Comparative Analyses of Community-Led Approaches in Cambodia and Ghana

Tribbe J, Zuin V, Delaire C, Khush R, Peletz R. How Do Rural Communities Sustain Sanitation Gains? Qualitative Comparative Analyses of Community-Led Approaches in Cambodia and Ghana. Sustainability. 2021; 13(10):5440. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13105440

Abstract

Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a popular intervention for eliminating open defecation in rural communities. Previous research has explored the contextual and programmatic factors that influence CLTS performance. Less is known about the community-level conditions that sustain latrine coverage and use.

We hypothesized three categories of community conditions underlying CLTS sustainability: (i) engagement of community leaders, (ii) follow-up intensity, and (iii) support to poor households. We evaluated these among communities in Cambodia and Ghana, and applied fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) to identify combinations of conditions that influenced current latrine coverage and consistent latrine use.

In Cambodia, latrine coverage was highest in communities with active commune-level leaders rather than traditional leaders, and with leaders who used casual approaches for promoting latrine construction. Latrine use in Cambodia was less consistent among communities with intense commune engagement, higher pressure from traditional leaders, high follow-up and high financial support. In Ghana, by contrast, active leaders, high follow-up, high pro-poor support, and continued activities post-implementation promoted latrine coverage and consistent use.

The different responses to CLTS programming emphasize that rural communities do not have homogenous reactions to CLTS. Accounting for community perceptions and context when designing community-led interventions can foster long-term sustainability beyond short-term achievement.

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