Walking down the forbidden lane: 'shit talk' promotes sanitation (PLA 61)

Journal (part) article
PDF (131.05 KB)
Published: November 2010
Participatory Learning and Action
Product code:G02798
Source publication:
Participatory Learning and Action 61 Tales of Shit: Community-Led Total Sanitation in Africa

This article explores the power of language in Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). The author discusses facilitators’ experiences in talking about shit with communities in Sierra Leone and shows the hidden cultural blocks which can hinder total sanitation in communities – but which can also be turned into advantages. The author explores the role of songs, humour, religion and children in stopping open defecation (OD). She also shows how the language, words, fables and adages community people themselves use continue to influence their sanitation and hygiene behaviour after attaining open defecation free (ODF) status. The article explores the challenges of maintaining a ‘high level’ of total sanitation in communities. Furthermore, it brings out the challenges associated with breaking the obstacles which trivialise discussions about shit and actions at government and institutional level.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

Article in: PLA 61. Guest-edited by: Petra Bongartz, Samuel Musembi Musyoki, Angela Milligan and Holly Ashley.

Keywords: CLTS, Community-Led Total Sanitation, water, hygiene, Kamal Kar, health, PRA, scaling up, policy, triggering, training, facilitation.

To read the full table of contents or download whole issue please click on More information above.

Cite this publication

Zombo, M. (2010). Walking down the forbidden lane: 'shit talk' promotes sanitation (PLA 61). .
Available at https://www.iied.org/g02798