Sustaining sanitation services costs 5-20 times more than building a latrine

Sustaining sanitation is much more expensive than building latrines. The 20-year cost of sustaining a basic level sanitation service per person in certain countries is anywhere from 5-20 times the cost per person of building the latrine in the first place.

This is one of the key findings on costing sustainable sanitation services, which are being highlighted in the first month of the WASHCost campaign. The campaign was launched on 24 October, and every month until March 2013, it brings a roundup of fast facts from the WASHCost research project, experiences from several organisations which are using the life-cycle cost approach and ways to get involved.

Expenditure on sanitation in countries where WASHCost has carried out research is too low, and is focused almost entirely on the capital costs of building latrines. There is a striking difference between the expenditure required to provide a basic service and what is actually being spent. Too little is being spent on stimulating and sustaining demand for hygienic latrine use and on ensuring that latrines are kept clean and in good repair. The absence of arrangements for pit emptying and measures to ensure environmental protection is adversely affecting service levels. To find out more about  the true costs of providing sanitation services download the WASHCost infosheet.

Between 2008 and 2012, WASHCost teams in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Andhra Pradesh (India) and Mozambique collected and analysed cost and service
level information for water, sanitation and hygiene in rural and peri-urban areas, applying the life-cycle costs approach. The life-cycle costs approach examines the complex relationships between expenditure, service delivery, poverty,  effectiveness and sustainability.

The WASHCost project is led by the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre.

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