• The main pillar of the Government of Nigeria (GoN)’s ’National Strategy for Scaling up Sanitation’ reduces open defecation in low-wealth areas.
  • Our results can be used by the GoN to target the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) intervention more effectively.
  • We show that these findings may also be useful for the targeting of CLTS beyond the Nigerian context.
  • Different or complementary approaches are needed for areas characterised by higher aggregate wealth.


Sanitation is at the heart of public health policies in most of the developing world, where around 85% of the population still lack access to safe sanitation. We study the effectiveness of a widely adopted participatory community-level information intervention aimed at improving sanitation. Results from a randomized controlled trial, implemented at scale in rural Nigeria, reveal stark heterogeneity in impacts: the intervention has immediate, strong and lasting effects on sanitation practices in less wealthy communities, realized through increased sanitation investments. In contrast, we find no evidence of impacts among wealthier communities. This suggests that a targeted implementation of CLTS may increase its effectiveness in improving sanitation. Our findings can be replicated in other contexts, using microdata from evaluations of similar interventions.