WASHCost reveals higher capital costs for sanitation than water, and high expenditure on soap

WASHCost logoMost sanitation costs in rural and peri-urban areas are borne by households and when these are taken into account, the per capita costs are actually higher than those for water. State expenditure on capital maintenance, operation and maintenance, and direct and indirect support costs for sanitation is minimal in all four research countries of the WASHCost project. Households in Africa are spending surprisingly high amounts on soap. These are some of the findings that were presented at the IRC Symposium in The Hague on 16-18 November 2010.

The WASHCost project is working with partners in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique and in the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh to collect and analyse cost data for water and sanitation services in rural and peri-urban areas. The overall aim is to build better cost data into country systems to increase the quality of services, especially targeting issues of poverty, equity and cost-effectiveness.

WASHCost is completing the third year of the five year project which is run by the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre in the Netherlands and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. An intensive year of data collection is being analysed but preliminary results were revealed for the first time at the IRC Symposium in The Hague.

Some of the sanitation-related findings include:

  • In Andhra Pradesh, India, households spend from US$ 150 to US$ 227 on their toilets in addition to the Government subsidy – which is supposed to cover 90% of the costs
  • WASHCost researched ten villages in Andhra Pradesh that had won the NGP [Nirmal Gram Puraskar] award for becoming ‘open defecation free’ and found open defecation again being practised in nine of them. This “slippage” relates to the failure of sustainability of large hygiene interventions
  • In Mozambique, all sanitation construction costs are borne by households. Going from traditional pit latrine to a higher level of service implies at least 50% more capital costs per person per year
  • Pit latrines are widely used in Burkina Faso and in Mozambique and last a long time without much maintenance. However, they are not considered as safe in government norms
  • In Ghana, communities spend US$ 26 per capita per year on soap, more than the per capita cost of a small town water system. In Mozambique, households are spending up to 5% of their cash-income on soap. This average of US$ 12 per capita per year is more than the per capita expenditure on hygiene promotion interventions

Related web site: WASHCost

Source: Peter McIntrye, IRC, 27 Nov 2010

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