The true costs of participatory sanitation

Plan International USA and The Water Institute at UNC have conducted the first study to present comprehensive, accurate, disaggregated costs of a WaSH behaviour-change programme.  The study calculated programme costs, and local investments for four community-led total sanitation (CLTS) interventions in Ghana and Ethiopia.

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Jonny Crocker, Darren Saywell, Katherine F. Shields, Pete Kolsky, Jamie Bartram, The true costs of participatory sanitation : evidence from community-led total sanitation studies in Ghana and Ethiopia. Science of The Total Environment, vol. 601–602, 1 Dec 2017, pp: 1075-1083. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.05.279 [Open access]

Abstract

Evidence on sanitation and hygiene program costs is used for many purposes. The few studies that report costs use top-down costing methods that are inaccurate and inappropriate. Community-led total sanitation (CLTS) is a participatory behaviour-change approach that presents difficulties for cost analysis. We used implementation tracking and bottom-up, activity-based costing to assess the process, program costs, and local investments for four CLTS interventions in Ghana and Ethiopia. Data collection included implementation checklists, surveys, and financial records review. Financial costs and value-of-time spent on CLTS by different actors were assessed. Results are disaggregated by intervention, cost category, actor, geographic area, and project month. The average household size was 4.0 people in Ghana, and 5.8 people in Ethiopia. The program cost of CLTS was $30.34–$81.56 per household targeted in Ghana, and $14.15–$19.21 in Ethiopia. Most program costs were from training for three of four interventions. Local investments ranged from $7.93–$22.36 per household targeted in Ghana, and $2.35–$3.41 in Ethiopia. This is the first study to present comprehensive, disaggregated costs of a sanitation and hygiene behaviour-change intervention. The findings can be used to inform policy and finance decisions, plan program scale-up, perform cost-effectiveness and benefit studies, and compare different interventions. The costing method is applicable to other public health behaviour-change programs.

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