Dr. Kamal Kar: Chairman, CLTS Foundation and Pioneer of Community-Led Total Sanitation

CLTS in India

Dr. Kamal Kar is a renowned international development specialist in rural development and natural resources and a prolific social entrepreneur who has taken the challenge of ending open defecation head on in Asia, Africa and Latin America.


Being a specialist in livestock production, agriculture and natural resources Dr. Kar has pioneered a number of innovative approaches in natural resources management and low cost appropriate technologies in farming. He has also been a leading figure in the field of collective management of pasture and natural resources (Nukhurluls) in the Gobi region in Mongolia. His other areas of work include urban poverty, slum improvement, and local governance in India, Mongolia, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

Watch Dr Kar speaking at Amsterdam upon receiving the Sarphati Lifetime Sanitation Achievement Award in 2015:

Dr. Kar pioneered the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach in Bangladesh in1999-2000. The CLTS methodology which is based on a no-subsidy policy and rooted in a model of community empowerment and mobilisation, has radically transformed global sanitation policy focus from toilet construction to the process of collective behaviour change. It has spread to more than 69 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America where more than 40 million people are now living in open defecation free (ODF) environments. CLTS has also been mainstreamed in the sanitation policies of more than 25 countries in these regions.


He has worked extensively in poverty reduction and empowerment, which includes analysis of poverty reduction strategy papers, dynamics of community based organisations, marginalisation and extreme poverty including gender, and addressing microfinance, environment including ecological agriculture and labour market issues in programme development.


He has worked in gender analysis and social development: universality and difference and potential inter-linkages and tensions between different social development aims and policies (e.g. poverty alleviation and/or environment and/or gender policy).


Kar has contributed substantially in rights based approach, including expertise in conducting contextual analysis and developing evidence based advocacy programme, facilitating campaign for social inclusion, facilitating rights analysis in developing country strategic plan, and maintaining higher level networking for advocacy in Bangladesh, Mongolia and Ethiopia.


For more than two decades, he worked in the development of participatory development approaches including local level participation of the farming community by ensuring and leading participatory research team, grassroots learning, livelihood security analysis, social and economic inclusion/exclusion, social capital, policy analysis, grassroots movements and inter-linkages between specific forms of participation and broader social change.


Over the last 15 years, Dr. Kar has played an instrumental role in the spread of CLTS globally by providing capacity building, policy advice and process support to national governments and international agencies like, WSP, DFID, UNICEF, WSSCC, Irish Aid, WHO, Plan international, Water Aid, CARE and many more. After introducing the approach in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Pakistan and a few other countries in Asia, Kar introduced the approach in the countries in Eastern and Southern Africa from 2006, which included Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Eritrea, Sudan, Ghana and Madagascar. He took the approach to West Africa in 2007 by facilitating major training workshops in Sierra Leone, Mali, Nigeria and Chad in 2009.


The ‘Handbook and the Trainers Guide on CLTS’ authored by Dr. Kar has been translated into more than ten different languages. Additionally, he has written several practice papers on CLTS. He is a Honorary Associate at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, UK. The prestigious Foreign Policy Magazine of Washington DC selected Dr. Kar amongst the Top Hundred Global Thinkers of the World in 2010The Asian Development Bank declared Dr. Kar as the Water Champion of 2011. Dr. Kar is the recipient of Sarphati Sanitation Lifetime Achievement Award 2015 given by World Waternet, Netherlands Water Partnership at Amsterdam, which is a recognition of the immense work he has done in the sanitation sector spanning many continents, governments and communities.

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