#FromTheArchives: Gaining - and Sustaining - Open Defecation Free Status


A pick of the documentation on achieving and sustaining ODF status in the WSSCC library

Open defecation refers to the practice whereby people go out in fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using a toilet to defecate.

The WSSCC definition of Open Defecation Free (ODF) status refers to a state in which no human faeces are openly exposed to the air.  Therefore, a direct pit latrine with no lid is a form of open defecation, but with a fly-proof lid it can qualify as an ODF latrine.

However, definitions for ODF status can vary across and within countries. In WSSCC's Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) -supported programmes, ODF criteria is defined according to national standards - using the WSSCC definition as the baseline. For example, in some of the countries supported, sustained ODF is required for official ODF certification.

GSF considers the achievement of open defecation free (ODF) status to be a crucial step towards sustained sanitation and hygiene access and use for all. Since 2008, through community-led collective behaviour change approaches and assessment of what works - and what doesn't  -  GSF has developed expertise in methods to achieve and sustain ODF status.

By the end of 2016,  GSF-funded programmes had enabled 15.2 million people to live in ODF environments. Download the GSF 2016 Progress Report in English or French for more about GSF’s  activities, results and impact.

In this month's #FromTheArchives we presents a selection of material documenting best practice on the path to ODF status, and how to sustain it:

Click on the cover to download

Promising Pathways – Innovations and Best Practices in CLTS at Scale in Madagascar (2014)

Based on community- and national-level fieldwork in Madagascar, the research for this publication was guided by Kamal Kar, pioneer of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach. The document assesses process and practices of CLTS as implemented by the GSF -funded programme in Madagascar – known as the Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement (FAA). 

Follow-Up MANDONA Handbook (2016)


In another publication drawing up on FAA success, the ‘Follow-up MANDONA’ (FUM) handbook is a field guide for practitioners of CLTS.  The FUM approach was pioneered by  a programme sub-grantee, the NGO, MIARINTSOA . The handbook has become a widely-used tool  across GSF-funded programmes to accelerate and sustain ODF status, aiming to systematically engage communities after they have been initially ‘triggered’ and committed to ending open defecation.

Catalytic Programming for Scale and Sustainability: Conversations, Reflections and Lessons from the 2016 Global Sanitation Fund Learning Event (2016)


Based on the sessions, workshops and presentations at the 2016 GSF Learning Event in Madagascar, this publication explores the conversations, reflections and lessons learned on scale, sustainability, equality and monitoring for sanitation and hygiene programmes. An important aim of the event was to provide country teams with concrete ideas, approaches and innovations to adapt to their contexts, in order to improve the outcomes and impact of their programmes.

Sanitation and Hygiene Behaviour Change at Scale: Understanding Slippage (2016)


Many sanitation and hygiene programmes are confronted with slippage, which refers to a return to unhygienic behaviour, or the inability of community members to continue to meet all ODF criteria. This paper explores how to understand slippage nuances and patterns, with strategies to address, pre-empt and mitigate it as well as alternative monitoring systems that capture the complexity of slippage more fully. The report is primarily based on experiences from the FAA in Madagascar.

Freddy the Fly video (2017)

WSSCC's most recent educational tool about the benefits of living open defecation free is a two-minute video illustrating the ODF journey from the perspective of a grumpy, shit-eating fly. For all audiences, it is available on WSSCC’s Youtube channel. Please use this video in your community training.  There is an ambient-sound version only available should you wish to add a local language narration to the video - please request this from wsscc@wsscc.org