Where do you shit? In developing countries, the answer to this question may determine whether you live or die. Around 2.6 billion people do not have access to a toilet – about four in ten of the world’s population. Instead, they defecate in the open – in the bush, the forest, by riverbanks and lakes, near train tracks and by the side of the road. The consequences are dire. Shit carries disease and is a major killer. Lack of sanitation also impacts on general well-being, human dignity and personal freedom. Despite this, many sanitation programmes have failed to convince rural communities of the benefits of good hygiene. <br /><br />However, this has begun to change in recent years with the development of a radical new participatory approach called Community-Led Total Sanitation. CLTS has encouraged millions of people around the world to look at, talk about and tackle the problems caused by open defecation. This has not happened through education, force or monetary incentives, but through the facilitation of a participatory process called ‘triggering’. Using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools, communities analyse their hygiene habits and practices and mobilise to take collective action to totally sanitise their environments. <br /><br />Following its development and spread in Asia, CLTS is now being piloted in Africa. This special issue of Participatory Learning and Action issue draws on this large and growing body of experience, and includes case studies from East, Southern and West Africa. The overview article by the guest editors provides an introduction to CLTS, key elements for successful CLTS and issues around scaling up CLTS in Africa, and a resources section highlights key publications, websites and online communities for CLTS practitioners.<br /><br />This issue will be of interest to the many organisations and individuals involved in implementing and taking CLTS to scale in Africa and elsewhere, as well as to other participatory practitioners.