Flushing away old ideas about pipes and potties

DESPITE recent progress, more than one billion people still lack decent water supplies, and more than 2 billion go without sanitation services.

But, while we often assume that the benefits of improving water and sanitation systems always outweigh the costs, this is not always true.

Piped water and sanitation networks are expensive. Consumers in most countries don’t realize this, because the true costs are hidden by subsidies.

New research for Copenhagen Consensus reveals that the full cost of piping water to a household is as high as US$80 per month – more than most households in rich countries pay and far beyond the means of most families in developing countries. Spending a large amount of money to do a little amount of good is not a sound investment.

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