It is clear that there is a need for more effective strategies to increase sanitation coverage in rural areas, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. One such strategy which is expanding in the sub-continent is community-led total sanitation (CLTS). However, CLTS has been criticized for ‘shaming’ communities and individuals, for using coercion, for providing unsustainable incentives or rewards, for neglecting the most vulnerable and for the lack of agreed standards. Using the example of Zambia, this paper responds to those criticisms. If implemented in accordance with ‘pure’ CLTS principles, the approach enables large-scale community mobilization which acts as a springboard for other development activities. The driver for social change is neither humiliation, coercion nor external reward but a strong sense of pride and realization of self-potential. The focus is not on externally imposed ‘standards’ but on self-determination of what is appropriate and on communal responsibility.