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$25 Can't Give Someone Clean Water for Life: The Real Cost of Sustainable Service

posted 29 Dec 2011, 01:13 by RCN Uganda

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) development organizations are often asked by donors to quantify their projects in terms of unit cost or cost per beneficiary. With more focus these days on evidence base, outcome contracting, and sustainability, it's time to develop a more comprehensive approach that includes looking at life-cycle costs for WASH programs. This is a direct challenge to a cost-per-beneficiary-per-project approach, which oversimplifies what it takes to get the job done properly and for the long term.

IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre and WASHCost project partners have been doing critical work to quantify life-cycle costs. They have developed a water and sanitation service costing framework called the life-cycle cost approach, which outlines the complexity of costs to provide safe, affordable, and sustainable drinking water for populations over time.

Life-cycle costs are the aggregate costs of ensuring delivery of adequate, equitable, and sustainable WASH services to a population in a specified area. This approach takes into account both the initial onetime investment to establish or significantly extend a service (Capital Expenditure) and the recurrent costs.
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