How a mobile-to-web system led to 1,500,000 new users of sanitation in just 18 months

Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) has seen great success in promoting sanitation in rural communities around the world. In Zambia, the introduction of CLTS saw 1.5 million new users of sanitation in just 18 months. This change is important and can have a significant impact on the health of these rural communities since water, sanitation, and hygiene can reduce diarrhoea risk by an estimated 30%, diarrhoea being the world’s second leading cause of death in children under five.

There is an important second component to the CLTS movement, however, that was highlighted in a recent article in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The article, titled “A Mobile Platform Enables Unprecedented Sanitation Uptake in Zambia” examines the use of a digital companion to CLTS called CLTS Mobile to Web (CLTS M2W). It was found that this mobile platform created needed data transparency and the ability for communities to see the progress they were making towards better sanitation practices, including their progress toward being open defecation free (ODF). Not only did this digital platform create better uptake and buy-in from the volunteers who help run the program, it also was shown to provide a lower cost per new sanitation user at $1.65, 34% lower than in non M2W districts.

Another key factor this study noted was the addition of a “Chief’s Visualizer Tool,” a component that delivers periodic reports directly to tablets monitored by the communities’ traditional leaders. Since the chiefs are the key agents of behaviour change in rural Zambia, their being equipped with real-time data on the performance of the villages within their chiefdom allows them to make judicious use of limited fuel and monitoring resources to place pressure on villages that may be underperforming. This goes hand-in-hand with one of the main CLTS principals of communal resolve to improve the health of yourself and your neighbour.

The study can be read in its entirety on PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases at the following link:

Learn more about Akros work in Water and Sanitation here: