Water and sanitation projects for solving the needs of small communities in developing countries are complex in nature and involve complex decision-making, which must consider technical, socio-economic and environmental dimensions. Multicriteria analysis (MCA) is a suitable decision-aid method that scores a finite number of options on the basis of a set of evaluation criteria. The main challenge in MCA is choosing the appropriate criteria and evaluation indicators to use for assessment. The aim of this paper is to present a comprehensive and wide list of criteria and evaluation indicators as a guideline in MCA of water and basic sanitation projects in small rural communities of developing countries. First, the paper details the general criteria to be considered in all the projects, which are classified in to 4 main groups: technical (e.g. local resources use, appropriate management); social (e.g. local community participation, overcoming discrimination of conflict); economic (e.g. low cost, employment of local staff) and environmental criteria (e.g. atmospheric emissions, water pollution). Then, it describes technical criteria to be additionally considered in each specific type of project: water supply (e.g. water needs, independent access), water treatment (e.g. constant resource availability, flexibility of use for different types of water) and basic sanitation projects (e.g. maximum number of people per system, effluent quality).
Keywords: basic sanitation, developing countries, MCA, water supply, water treatment