Improving Uptake and Sustainability of Sanitation Interventions in Timor-Leste: A Case Study.
Open defecation (OD) is still a significant public health challenge worldwide. In Timor-Leste, where an estimated 20% of the population practiced OD in 2017, increasing access and use of improved sanitation facilities is a government priority. Community-led total sanitation (CLTS) has become a popular strategy to end OD since its inception in 2000, but evidence on the uptake of CLTS and related interventions and the long-term sustainability of OD-free (ODF) communities is limited. This study utilized a mixed-methods approach, encompassing quantitative monitoring and evaluation data from water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) agencies, and semi-structured interviews with staff working for these organizations and the government Department of Environmental Health, to examine sanitation interventions in Timor-Leste. Recommendations from WASH practitioners on how sanitation strategies can be optimized to ensure ODF sustainability are presented. Whilst uptake of interventions is generally good in Timor-Leste, lack of consistent monitoring and evaluation following intervention delivery may contribute to the observed slippage back to OD practices. Stakeholder views suggest that long-term support and monitoring after ODF certification are needed to sustain ODF communities.