Key findings on costing water services
We are launching key findings from the WASHCost research for organisations in the sector to use "real costs" and ensure sustainability
The cost of maintaining a piped water system is between 3-15 dollars per person per year
07 Dec 12
The benchmark costs for constructing intermediate and larger schemes range from US$ 20 to US$ 152 per person.The benchmark capital costs for maintaining a piped system is between 3-15 dollars per person per year
No single factor determines the cost of setting up new water services
07 Dec 12
No single factor determines the cost of setting up new water services –local factors need to be studied to see where economies can be made.
Expenditure below the minimum benchmark risks reduced service levels and long-term failure. Expenditure higher than the maximum benchmark indicates that an affordability check maybe/is required for users and providers. There may be context-specific reasons for expenditure outside the benchmarks. Economies of scale can occur in densely-populated areas, while costs are higher in areas that are difficult to reach or sparsely populated, or where service levels are higher.
Recurrent spending of US$ 3-6 per person per year is needed to maintain a borehole and handpump
06 Dec 12
Capital cost benchmarks to prepare, supply and install a borehole and handpump range from US$ 20 per person to just over US$ 60 per person and recurrent capital costs for maintaining a borehole and handpump range from 3-6 dollars per person per year.
Piped networks can give better services – but at a much higher cost than boreholes and handpumps
30 Nov 12
Although users tend to receive a better service from piped networks they have higher initial capital and recurrent expenditure. Larger piped services tend to be 25%-50% cheaper per person to construct than smaller ones.
In Andhra Pradesh,operational and minor maintenance expenditure on piped networks is roughly 5-8 times higher per person than for boreholes with handpumps amounting to a mean of 4% annually of the initial capital expenditure. OpEx for all piped schemes was between US$0.4 and US$4.8 per person per year.
Capital expenditure on boreholes and handpumps is much higher in Africa than India
30 Nov 12
The highest mean expenditure on providing boreholes and handpumps was US$12,507 expended in Burkina Faso. This was more than 40% higher than US$8,922 in Ghana and US$8,660 in Mozambique, and almost seven times higher than the mean expenditure by the government of Andhra Pradesh.
Expenditure on recurrent operations and minor maintenance for borehole with handpump supplies are a similar order of magnitude across countries at well below US$0.50 per user per year for the majority of schemes.
Handpumps remain important when piped networks fail
30 Nov 12
Boreholes with handpumps continue to play a significant role as a main source and even in communities with piped networks are used as alternatives when piped networks fail. However, they failed to supply a basic level of service to more than 36% of users in any of the research countries.
In the African countries boreholes often failed to deliver the basic quantity of 20 litres per person per day because of problems with accessibility, rather than because of system “failure”. People do not use the service for reasons of cost, distance, crowding, or not liking the taste. Lack of water quality testing was also a reason for service levels being low. In Andhra Pradesh, the main problem is frequent breakdowns and source failure.
Most piped schemes fail to provide a basic service to more than 50% of the population, with two exceptions being intermediate sized single town pipe networks in Ghana and small single town pipe networks in Burkina Faso.
In Andhra Pradesh, 37%-85% of people in research villages chose to use a source other than the piped scheme, partly due to the chronic unreliability of much of the formal piped infrastructure. Single town piped networks provided a lower percentage of users with a basic level of service compared with borehole and handpump service models despite having much higher recurrent expenditure.
Four key conditions must be met to provide a basic level of service
30 Nov 12
A basic level of service is assumed to be achieved when all the following criteria have been realised by a majority of the population in the service area:
- Quantity: people access a minimum of 20 litres per person per day,
- Quality: acceptable quality (judged by user perception and country standards)
- Reliability: an improved source which functions at least 350 days a year without a serious breakdown,
- Accessibility: spending no more than 30 minutes per day per round trip (including waiting time).
Subsidies for recurrent costs may be needed to provide water to the rural poor
30 Nov 12
WASHCost research strongly suggests that the rural poor are missing out due to failure to finance water services properly, especially recurrent expenditure subsequent to initial hardware provision. Even the relatively small amount of additional money that is required is 6-12 times bigger than the current spending on recurrent items – such as capital maintenance and direct support. Governments, NGOs and donors may need to subsidise part of the recurrent costs over the longer term in developing countries, to ensure that water services for the rural poor remain achievable.
What you do not measure, you do not cost. What you do not cost, you cannot do...
30 Nov 12
What you do not measure, you do not cost. What you do not cost, you cannot do: reporting systems must change to reflect the real costs of providing services that last.
Reporting systems must change to reflect the real costs of providing services that last.
Using the WASHCost life-cycle costs approach has significant programmatic implications. The yearly costs of WASH have to become transparent and widely known if the chasm between aspirations of water for some and the delivery of at least a basic level of service for all is to be bridged:
- Reporting systems need to change to collect and analyse relevant, up to date expenditure relate to actual services delivered. Governments, donors and NGOs need to ask the right questions and then set up the means to deliver the answers.
- If gaps in data sets are identified, realistic budgets can be calculated to budget for capital maintenance and direct support, including the costs of monitoring, training and technical support.
- Direct support and capital maintenance are costly but are not budgeted for or covered. How can the sector finance these expenditures in areas with very low income levels?
Services are unreliable due to the high number of breakdowns and lack of support for providers
30 Nov 12
Two decades of investment in water supply infrastructure has substantially increased the number of people with access to an improved water service. However, high breakdown levels and lack of support for monitoring, maintenance and repairs renders services unreliable. People, systems and finances need to be in place to ensure that systems continue to function following construction and that assets are maintained.