Copenhagen Consensus Center – WASH targets in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Link to reports: www.post2015consensus.com/water-and-sanitation 

Here, Copenhagen Consensus Center has just released its latest research on water and sanitation targets for the post-2015 development agenda. Guy Hutton, Senior Economist, at the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), World Bank writes the main report, with research assistance provided by Mili Varughese, Operations Analyst at WSP. water_assessment_01_sml (1)

Guy Hutton, Senior Economist for the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program, writes a paper examining the costs and benefits of ending open defecation and providing universal access to water and sanitation. He finds that in general, it is more cost-beneficial to serve rural populations since they save more time from having improved access to water and sanitation facilities. Additionally, it is more effective to provide for the poorest, because they start with poorer health and have greater capacity to improve from access. Regardless of location and income, providing water and sanitation passes a cost-benefit test.

Dale Whittington, Professor, Departments of Environmental Sciences & Engineering at University of North Carolina, makes a critical examination of the assessment paper, noting several challenges with the benefit-cost calculations. In particular, he outlines concerns with how time savings are calculated, the likelihood of 100% take up of the interventions, assumptions around the cost base and how sensitivity analysis is applied in the paper. Despite these issues, Whittington agrees that water and sanitation interventions are likely to be cost-beneficial, though very sensitive to local conditions.

Dale Whittington also writes a stand-alone paper on water resources management targets. In a thought-provoking discussion he argues that global average benefit-cost ratios for water resource management investments are not useful because investments must be analyzed at the local level. Secondly, he suggests that it would be wrong for low-income countries to prioritize health interventions over large scale water infrastructure, since the latter are a necessary pre-requisite for the former.

Mary Ostrowski and Allan Jones of the World Chlorine Council present their views on the ‘safely managed drinking water service’ aspect of the proposed WASH targets. They argue that the most effective way to check drinking water quality is testing for the chlorine residual to ensures that the water is safe and free from disease causing germs.​

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