The case for investment in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has been convincingly made. WASH is essential for protecting public health, is a human right and investing in it is compelling from a fiscal and economic point of view. While the estimated $114 billion per year of capital investments required to meet universal access to safely managed water and sanitation services by 2030 is often portrayed as a hefty price tag, current best estimates of benefit-to-cost ratios leave little doubt about its value.

What is less clear is how to allocate resources efficiently. There is limited evidence on the cost efficiency and cost effectiveness of various policy and implementation choices. The underlying drivers of demand for (new) technologies and solutions are, for example, poorly understood, as is beneficiaries’ willingness to pay (WTP), leading to open questions about pricing policies and sustainable business models.

This is in contrast to other infrastructure sectors, such as energy and transport, where active literature on the economics and financing of services has been more helpful in defining national and international policy. Our objective with this book is to encourage the WASH sector to follow suit and start to effectively engage and research these issues.

At the heart of this book therefore, are chapters which highlight some of the specificities, and challenges of conducting full economic evaluations of WASH interventions, provide a deeper understanding of potential solutions, and present new findings on costs and outcome measures, thereby contributing towards a fuller picture of WASH cost-effectiveness.


In Focus – a book series that showcases the latest accomplishments in water research. Each book focuses on a specialist area with papers from top experts in the field. It aims to be a vehicle for in-depth understanding and inspire further conversations in the sector.

Editorial: WASH Economics and Financing: towards a better understanding of costs and benefits
Britta Augsburg and Tristano Sainati

Interaction of village and school latrines on educational outcomes in India
Jennifer Orgill-Meyer

Sanitation dynamics: toilet acquisition and its economic and social implications in rural and urban contexts
Britta Augsburg and Paul Rodríguez-Lesmes

Understanding the costs of urban sanitation: towards a standard costing model
Tristano Sainati, Fiona Zakaria, Giorgio Locatelli, P. Andrew Sleigh and Barbara Evans

Life-cycle costs approach for private piped water service delivery: a study in rural Viet Nam
Melita Grant, Tim Foster, Dao Van Dinh, Juliet Willetts and Georgia Davis

An assessment of penetration for pay-to-fetch water kiosks in rural Ghana using the Huff gravity model
Philip T. Deal and David A. Sabatini

Understanding water demand and usage in Mandalay city, Myanmar as a basis for resetting tariffs
Tanvi Nagpal, Henry Rawlings and Maël Balac

Unpacking piped water consumption subsidies: Who benefits? New evidence from 10 countries
Laura Abramovsky, Luis Andrés, George Joseph, Juan Pablo Rud, Germán Sember and Michael Thibert

Does payment by results work? Lessons from a multi-country WASH programme
Guy Howard and Zach White

Benefits and costs of rural sanitation interventions in Ghana
Mark Radin, Brad Wong, Catherine McManus, Saumitra Sinha, Marc Jeuland, Eugene Larbi, Benedict Tuffuor, Noble Kofi Biscoff and Dale Whittington

Expanding safe fecal sludge management in Kisumu, Kenya: an experimental comparison of latrine pit-emptying services
Rachel Peletz, Andy Feng, Clara MacLeod, Dianne Vernon, Tim Wang, Joan Kones, Caroline Delaire, Salim Haji and Ranjiv Khush

Users are willing to pay for sanitation, but not as much as they say: empirical results and methodological comparisons of willingness to pay for peri-urban sanitation in Lusaka, Zambia using contingent valuation, discrete choice experiments, and hedonic pricing
James B. Tidwell

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