CLTS with the Van Raji community of Uttarakhand living above 1750 meters on the mountains of Himalayas

The sacred Kailash transboundary landscape spreads over a very wide area across three countries namely the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, high Himalayas of Western Nepal and the North Eastern parts of the State of Uttarakhand in India. Since time immemorial Kailash has been an important destination for religious and spiritual reasons. The land is renowned for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage. Millions of pilgrims visit the area, where rampant open defecation and indiscriminate dumping of garbage by pilgrims visiting Kailash is an extreme malady that the region is facing.

In view of this, the CLTS Foundation along with International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and CHEA (Central Himalayan Environment Association) organised a workshop to introduce CLTS amongst the rural communities living in the periphery of the landscape in India to make the region an ODF one. These were one of the communities living in the highest altitude in which CLTS has been introduced in the world. The overall idea of this initiative is to protect the sanctity and ecology of the region.

This workshop began with a triggering of the Van Raji Community in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The Van Raji community resides in hard to reach mountain terrains. The three organizations conducted a triggering in the Jamtadi village on the 24th of November,2015. The community was mobilised and the triggering was conducted atop the mountain in their village. It yielded a commitment by the villagers to themselves to ensure that not only would they not defecate in the open but would also ensure that they do not let other members of the community to do so.

They decided to create an ODF environment for themselves by the end of December 2015. The triggering was accompanied by slogan chanting for ending open defecation by the children after the children’s triggering.


The idea is to have an open defecation free Van Raji community by the middle of next year. The aim is to create an Open Defecation Free Kailash region where, tourism shall be enhanced and livelihood opportunities for the locals shall be escalated.

The very next day the community members took up to building their own toilets and at least seven of the forty households started digging pits and building toilets to end open defecation in the community. The conservation of the forests and ecology and the betterment of lives for the communities shall be the larger goal of the project.

Related Article: CLTS & Waste Management for promoting heritage tourism and ecosystems management at Patal Bhubneshwar in the Kailash Sacred Landscape

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