Solomon Islands Ministry of Health, UNICEF and Non Government Organizations have participated in a recent Community Led Total Sanitation (CTLS)to improve sanitation.

The six day workshop on CLTS was the first of its kind in Solomon Islands using the concept of community led development to improve the health through safe and sustainable sanitation.

Dr. Kamal Kar, founder of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Foundation, conducted the CLTS Training of Trainers workshop. He encouraged the participants to work together to support the elimination of open defecation in communities in the Solomon Islands.

The CLTS approach facilitates communities to understand and appreciate the link between open defecation and contamination of drinking water and food and health impacts like diarrhea and skin and eye infections. This community- based approach facilitates communities to come up with their own solutions to sanitation issues for their community.

The practical part of workshop was carried out in eight communities namely Sun Valley, Burns Creek, Sali, Fulisango, Wind Valley, Titinge, Aruligo, and Vatulovo. People in the communities were asked to draw a map of their community, the location of their homes, and identify areas where they normally defecate. Facilitators then asked questions about the health of people within the community which led the participants to make links between open defecation and the serious impacts the practice has on their community. Participants discussed the cost associated with faeces related illnesses like diarrhea, skin and eye infections. The lessons learnt during these exercises have been powerful motivators that have inspired natural community leaders to take action to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities.

Honorable Patrick Kennedy from Sali Village is one of the community participants who really appreciated the CLTS approach. “Open Defecation has been my community’s practice for so long and I want to say thank you for coming to my village and triggering us to think and build proper sanitation,” said Hon. Patrick Kennedy, Guadalcanal Provincial Government. “My community [Sali] has now made a commitment to be Open Defecation Free by 22nd of April 2013”.

The eight communities are already seeing the positive impact from the workshop as many community members have already started to build toilets and latrines. Leaders from the eight communities came together on Wednesday to share their experiences with CLTS and their action plans for making their community open defecation free. Participants shared ideas on how to construct toilets that met the particular needs of each community as well as how to incorporate hand washing practices with their newly built toilets. They also shared how their village will benefit from using toilets and improving hygiene.

Youth and children from the communities also participated in the CLTS workshop. These children and youth have called on their parents to ensure they have a safe, clean, healthy community where they can grow up in.

UNICEF, World Vision and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation program of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services supported Dr Kar’s visit to the Solomon Islands with the hope that workshops can be held throughout the Solomon Islands and lead to improved health and wellbeing of Solomon Islanders. At the conclusion of the CLTS Workshop, the workshop participants came together and discussed and developd an Action Plan for achieving an open defecation free Solomon Islands by 2015.