On Thursday, April 16th, Kamal Kar, the pioneer of the Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach and the Founder & Chairman of CLTS Foundation, presented at the Global Poverty Project’s Earth Day kickoff event ‘Getting to 100: Accelerating the Global Sanitation Agenda’. The event was organized by the Global Poverty Project (GPP), UNICEF, The World Bank and the United Nations Foundation at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC.
The event had a prestigious lineup of speakers – Her Excellency Gertrude Mutharika, First Lady of Malawi; Her Excellency Voahangy Rajaonarimampianina, First Lady of Madagascar; Junaid Ahmad, Senior Director at World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice; Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF; Alice Albright, CEO of the Global Partnership of Education; and Michael Sheldrick, Senior Manager, Global Policy and Advocacy at Global Poverty Project.
Dr Kar began his speech by asking the audience how many people had experienced diarrhea in the past year. After calling for a show of hands,Dr Kar informed the VIP attendees that they had therefore unknowingly eaten feces. Dr Kar’s presentation served as a bracing wake-up call for an audience of First Ladies, development experts, and celebrities on the problem of open-defecation. He emphasized the challenge that the global development world is facing in educating those that desperately need access to sanitary facilities, and changing the behavior of the world’s most poor and marginalized people. Kar illustrated the need for promoting behavior change by saying that people in India often have toilets and yet don’t use them for their intended purpose.
Dr Kar presented a compelling case for CLTS, an innovative methodology for mobilizing communities to completely eliminate open defecation. He argued in favor of forgoing a subsidy approach in favor of conducting their own appraisal and analysis of open defecation and take their own action to become open defecation free.