Demand generation

Demand generation is a modified form of community-led total sanitation (CLTS) designed for urban contexts. Like CLTS, it employs the following trigger points:




Through proper facilitation, the idea is to encourage community members to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of open defecation in their community and take action to become open defecation free (ODF). It is a process of social awakening that is stimulated by facilitators from within or outside the community, and concentrates on the entire community rather than on individuals.

  • Process Outline

Pre-triggering – Entry into the community and identification of leader. A pre-triggering meeting is arranged with these leaders. During this meeting, the facilitator touches upon issues related to open defecation and its consequent impact on the health of the community especially the children. A date for the triggering meeting is then decided.

Triggering –The objective of triggering is self-realization that the open defecation situation in their community is disgusting, and a resolution to take action. It is a large community wide meeting where a combination of the following activities take place:

  • Defecation mapping
  • Defecation calculation
  • Walk of Shame
  • Fecal mobility mapping

One outcome of this meeting is the formation of a committee (nigrani committee) who commit to help make their community open defecation free and will start follow ups from the next day onwards.

Follow-up – Follow-up start the morning after the triggering meeting. The facilitator accompanies the nigrani committee to the open defecation sites, on door-to-door visits, to conduct cleaning campaigns in the community, and to conduct smaller triggering sessions as required. The key to the success of follow-ups is that they should happen continuously every day for 15 – 30 days, in both the early morning and evening (at the typical open defecation timings). In Project Sammaan, follow-ups were conducted for 15 days in each site.

  • Unique Challenges to implementing CLTS in urban areas

    Direct challenges

Identifying all key leaders (and natural leaders): Slum communities are often very diverse, with each group having its own leader. The success this method is dependent on being able to get leaders onboard early on to help with the mobilization for triggering and followups. Much more time needs to be devoted in the pre-triggering stage to identifying and mapping out leaders.

Defining community boundaries for ‘triggering’ is tricky: Urban communities tend to be much more diverse, with transient populations, and potentially less social cohesion.

Being flexible to meet pace of urban living: Triggering should be done fast to keep the interest of busy city-dwellers. There’s no guarantee that people will stay throughout a 90 min triggering meeting. Also, multiple ‘pocket’ triggering may be needed: within plots or compounds, in market places, on different days of the week, etc., to reach as wide a target as possible.

Defining open defecation and unsafe disposal: In urban spaces, going out to fields, rivers and rail lines, are only part of the problem. There is also the problem of people who utilize open drains for defecation, or have substandard toilet facilities that don’t have proper septic containment. Making people realize that quality sanitation is required to become truly ODF can be a challenge.

Creating a united front for change: The triggering meeting may create a united feeling of disgust and desire to take action, but in diverse sites internal conflicts can soon get in the way during follow-ups and distract from the original goal of becoming open defecation free.

Indirect challenges

One of the expected outcomes of demand generation, is that some households will want to build their own toilets, or might use shared toilet options that are available. This brings up a few salient issues:

Ensuring skilled labor to build toilets: Access to appropriate technologies, including suppliers or skilled artisans for construction, is more relevant in urban areas. A simple, unlined pit may not meet urban planning regulations or space may not permit digging another pit when the first is full therefore it must be stable enough to withstand being emptied.

Defining community boundaries for ‘triggering’ is tricky: Urban communities tend to be much more diverse, with transient populations, and potentially less social cohesion.

Dealing with fecal sludge: If more people are using improved sanitation, then the septic infrastructure has to keep pace, including options for desludging and containment.

Quality and accessibility of shared options: If there are existing shared or community toilets, it’s important to make sure that they are in usable condition when triggering happens. Communities may take up some renovations themselves, but could lack the money to do larger renovations. In urban context, the different communities may feel uncomfortable using the same shared facility. So even though a large shared facility may exist, it could be that only one community is using it and not the entire slum.

Demand generation works on building momentum to keep community members motivated. Roadblocks in building toilets, managing the waste, or accessing existing toilet options, can weaken this momentum and discourage people from taking action. For demand generation to be useful, there has to be some advance thought as to whether the supply can be created as soon as people are triggered.

  • Resources

Check out the resources for more details on the demand generation implementation process, and a few case studies and observations of the process from the field.

Detailed demand generation process

Case studies and observations