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Assessing sanitation service levels

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Conventional sanitation ladders rank sanitation in increasing complexity of technological options. However, sanitation improvement is not as straightforward as the concept of “a ladder” with incremental improvements, might suggest. For example, from the user perspective, a VIP toilet may in some circumstances be a better option than a septic tank system. There is a wide gap between technologies and service provision, especially when O&M considerations are taken into account. This working paper from IRC’s WASHCost project sets out a common framework to analyse and compare sanitation cost data being collected across different country contexts (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, India) with different service delivery norms and standards. It represents a fundamental shift away from the focus on capital investment costs, to the costs of sustainable sanitation services.

In the second edition of this paper, indicators found to be more useful than others have been added, data that required too much time and financial resources for collection were eliminated, as well as data that were found to have resulted in unreliable information. Although critical to both water and sanitation services, hygiene-related indicators such as hand washing are now assessed separately, and as part of hygiene cost-effectiveness studies.

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