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.
Today, 2.1 billion people in urban areas use non-sewered (or on-site) sanitation facilities. While much of the work in rural areas is focused on creating and sustaining open defecation free communities and generating demand for communities to construct toilets, the downstream activities of collecting and transporting fecal sludge present a unique challenge for urban residents. These services are mostly provided by private operators, and are generally uncontrolled and unregulated. The inadequate disposal of fecal sludge in the environment represents a direct threat to public health and negates the positive outcomes from behavioral change and improvements in sanitation access.
The urban population in developing countries, and in particular the poor, rely on fecal sludge collection and transportation services that are often not affordable. In addition, pit emptying is often done by hand, exposing the operators to serious health risks (see figure below). Often mechanical emptiers, using vacuum trucks, charge excessive fees to customers but do not pay taxes or comply with laws and standards due to a general lack of regulation for these services. This makes it a highly profitable business. For example an emptying service provider in Abuja makes US$ 15,000 per month.
Manual emptier in Senegal, also called Baay Pelles
From 31st January to 2nd February 2012 BRAC, WaterAid, WSSCC and IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre will organise a regional sanitation and hygiene practitioners’ workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The aim of this workshop is to contribute to the evidence base on sanitation and hygiene interventions with sustainable results through documentation and analysis of selected cases. It is set up to support practitioners in identifying practical approaches, steps and lessons for improving their work and to provide an informal setting where participants actively engage and feel confident to question each other and their own assumptions.
The themes for this regional practitioners’ workshop are
- Sustainable sanitation services and sustained behaviour change
- Equity – reaching the poor and vulnerable
- Effective monitoring for change and improved planning
Please read the announcement and call for abstracts and send your abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 14th of August 2011.
This is the third in a series of (South) Asia regional practitioners’ workshops. For documentation related to the previous workshops, see IRC’s website: www.irc.nl/page/39978
A new publication brings together lessons from 8 regional sanitation and hygiene workshops held between 2007 and 2011 and can be downloaded here: www.irc.nl/page/65234