Shocking imagery and cultural sensitivity: a CLTS case study from Madagascar

2018-02-12T15:11:04Z (GMT) by Bethany Lomas Rachel Hammersley-Mather
Approaches addressing widespread open defecation practices in southeast Madagascar must navigate strongly held cultural values, traditions and taboos. In the urban commune of Fort Dauphin, this has resulted in SEED Madagascar’s adoption of a ‘hybrid’ approach to CLTS through Project Malio, a three-year urban sanitation project which seeks to instigate behaviour change by increasing access to improved sanitation in households and schools. Despite cultural taboos generally inhibiting discussion around defecation practices, the community has been accepting of the Malio approach, including campaigns using graphic Information, Education and Communication materials. However, plans to pilot a provocative signboard engaging a specific cultural taboo elicited such concern across the NGO’s Malagasy staff that a town-wide study was conducted to determine ‘how far is too far’. The Malio experience raises questions over the application of CLTS to evoke shock and shame and whether adapting the approach to fit cultural context removes its potency, and therefore its effectiveness.