Tag Archives: sanitation costs

Dear Matt Damon,

This blog is a response to the video posted by Matt Damon, co-founder of water.org, where he announces a toilet strike to raise awareness for the water crisis.
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Dear Matt,

I enjoyed your video on water.org about going on a toilet strike. It is great that you are so passionate about realizing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for all. I personally also like it that you bring in some humor into our sometimes very boring sector.

In your video you mention that it costs US$25 to provide a person with sanitation for life. This is not true. Over the past four years IRC’s WASHCost project in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Andhra Pradesh (India) and Mozambique has collected, validated and analysed cost and service level information for water, sanitation and hygiene. Based on this research we know that for US$ 25 you can construct a traditional pit latrine with an impermeable slab which provides a basic service. In order to sustain the service provided by that traditional pit latrine it costs between US$ 1.5 and US$ 4 per person per year – so to provide sanitation for life means finding that US$ 1.5-4 every year …. for life. If you do not know how, or by whom, these recurrent costs will be financed, it is very likely that the latrine you are constructing today will break down or not used within two to three years, wasting your investment.

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WASH by numbers: the latest on cost benchmarks, economic returns and handwashing

One of the most quoted WASH statistics was recently “downgraded”. For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, not $8 but “only” $4 is returned in economic returns through increased productivity. This recalculation [1], says the World Health Organization, is mainly a result of higher investment cost estimates and the more complete inclusion of operation and maintenance (O&M) costs.

Providing a better insight into O&M costs has been one of the achievements of the WASHCost project of the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. WASHCost has published minimum benchmarks for costing sustainable basic WASH services in developing countries [2]. The project collected data from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Andhra Pradesh (India) and Mozambique.

The main message is that spending less than the minimum benchmarks will result in a higher risk of reduced service levels or long-term failure. NGOs claiming that “US$20 can provide clean water for one person for 20 years” have clearly forgotten to include annual recurrent costs for operation and maintenance, capital maintenance and direct support.

The real cost for 20 years of basic water supply from a borehole and handpump would be, per person,  between US$ 20 and US$ 61 for construction plus US$ 3-6 every year to keep it working. In total for the 20 years this would amount to  US$ 80 to US$ 181 per person.

Similarly, for the most basic sanitation service, a traditional pit latrine, the combined costs would be US$ 37 – 106 per person over 20 years.

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India, Andhra Pradesh: Why families choose toilets – to protect older parents and younger daughters

Why do families build toilets? If the family tradition for many generations has been to defecate in the open – using local woods or accepted sites, then what is the incentive to make a break and opt for a toilet instead?

Concern for daughters and for elderly relatives are two factors often mentioned by families as motivating factors, especially as ‘safe’ places to defecate outside disappear.

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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.

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Sanitation costs and financing – presentations at IRC’s 2010 Symposium

The following papers on sanitation costs and financing were presented at the IRC Symposium 2010, ‘Pumps, Pipes and Promises: Costs, Finances and Accountability for Sustainable WASH Services’, held in The Hague from 16-18 November.

The economics of sanitation initiatives (ESI) for sanitation decision making in Southeast Asia. Author: Guy Hutton

This presentation discusses cost data from 5 Southeast Asian countries in various forms (by technology, by site/project, by hardware/software, by financing source, by timing, and under different infrastructure capacity use levels) to aid decision makers in intervention selection and to draw more general lessons about sanitation financing, efficiency and sustainability. Cost data were triangulated from household surveys, project or provider documents and local market surveys to estimate investment and annualized life cycle costs per household and per individual.

Full paper

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Costs and economics of sustainable sanitation (SuSanA fact sheet)

The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) has published a draft 8-page fact sheet for review by its members on Cost and Economics. The fact sheet introduces the concepts of costs and economics, presents simple analytical tools for comparing sanitation interventions, and illustrates these concepts and tools using evidence from previous economic studies. The fact sheet serves as a background to future factsheets on costs and economics which will report results of field studies.

The main authors and contributors to the fact sheet are Guy Hutton (WSP), Verena Pfeiffer (KfW), Steffen Blume (GTZ), Elisabeth Muench (GTZ) and Yaniv Malz (GTZ)

Read the fact sheet here

Burkina Faso: sanitation costs a lot, but it’s not a luxury

23 Jan 2008, Source Weekly.

With the installation of proper toilet facilities at several local markets in Ouagadougou, the sanitation situation has improved, especially during the rainy season when pit latrines get full of water. Fees of about five cents are collected from those who use the facilities. It is hoped that this will encourage people to also build and use a toilet at home. According to the National Office of Water and Sanitation (ONEA), only 10 per cent of residents of Burkina Faso have toilets of acceptable quality. Outside of Ouagadougou and Bobodioulasso, the two main cities, the rate is about two per cent.

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