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Costs, equity and affordability of sanitation in Bangladesh for low income rural households : applying the life-cycle costs approach to the Bagherpara Upazila

This study has sought to apply a life-cycle costs approach (LCCA) to the sanitation and hygiene activities undertaken in Bagherpara Upazila from 2006-2011, the duration of BRAC WASH I. By international and Bangladesh standards both the poor and ultra-poor in the study area are below the lower regional poverty line.

The study addressed five key questions:

  •  What services do people get, at what cost?
  •  Are services affordable to the poorest?
  •  Are the costs of maintaining adequate services being met?
  •  Do the investments made by BRAC WASH provide good value for money?
  •  What are the cost benchmarks that can be used to ensure sustainable sanitation services to the poorest in Bangladesh?

The study found that BRAC WASH has had a transformative effect on latrine construction in Bagherpara – especially for the ultra-poor who cannot afford to construct latrines. BRAC WASH grants ensure that this group have latrines that are more robust, don’t need emptying so often and have the potential to produce organic compost.

The BRAC WASH programme had a catalytic effect on latrine construction specifically for the ultra-poor who would not have a toilet without the BRAC WASH programme support. The poor spend a median of Taka 713 (US$ 9) on latrine construction while the non-poor spend a median of Taka 6,163 (US$ 75) per person. The ultra-poor construct mostly twin pits (which are under the grant agreement), while the poor build mostly single pits and the non-poor build mostly septic tanks and single pit offset latrines.

It is clear that without the BRAC WASH programme the ultra-poor would barely have access to sanitation. Without the grant for latrine construction, the twin pits and twin-pit offset latrines are not affordable to the ultra-poor amounting to almost 6% of the reported income. The amounts being spent by the poor on latrine construction clearly exceed the international benchmarks reaching 5% of reported household income which demonstrates a high willingness to pay for improved sanitation facilities. However, operational and capital maintenance requirements to deliver a basic service are affordable even to the lower socio-economic groups.

The improvements seen in the sanitation services from baseline to endline of BRAC WASH I clearly demonstrate that in the long term, continuous investment in behaviour change results in better service delivery. However, if service levels are to be maintained over time and to get the most out of the investments, it is essential that households, donors and programme managers need to understand how much is required to meet the ongoing, recurrent costs of service delivery and who will fund them. A reduction in the BRAC grant will lead to less coverage of the most vulnerable groups of the population.

TitleCosts, equity and affordability of sanitation in Bangladesh for low income rural households : applying the life-cycle costs approach to the Bagherpara Upazila
Publication TypeResearch Report
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsFonseca, C., Snehalatha, M., Rahman, M., Uddin, R.
Pagination38 p. : 16 fig., 12 tab.
Date Published11/2014
PublisherIRC and BRAC
Place PublishedThe Hague, The Netherlands
Publication LanguageEnglish
Abstract

This study has sought to apply a life-cycle costs approach (LCCA) to the sanitation and hygiene activities undertaken in Bagherpara Upazila from 2006-2011, the duration of BRAC WASH I. By international and Bangladesh standards both the poor and ultra-poor in the study area are below the lower regional poverty line.

The study addressed five key questions:

  •  What services do people get, at what cost?
  •  Are services affordable to the poorest?
  •  Are the costs of maintaining adequate services being met?
  •  Do the investments made by BRAC WASH provide good value for money?
  •  What are the cost benchmarks that can be used to ensure sustainable sanitation services to the poorest in Bangladesh?

The study found that BRAC WASH has had a transformative effect on latrine construction in Bagherpara – especially for the ultra-poor who cannot afford to construct latrines. BRAC WASH grants ensure that this group have latrines that are more robust, don’t need emptying so often and have the potential to produce organic compost.

The BRAC WASH programme had a catalytic effect on latrine construction specifically for the ultra-poor who would not have a toilet without the BRAC WASH programme support. The poor spend a median of Taka 713 (US$ 9) on latrine construction while the non-poor spend a median of Taka 6,163 (US$ 75) per person. The ultra-poor construct mostly twin pits (which are under the grant agreement), while the poor build mostly single pits and the non-poor build mostly septic tanks and single pit offset latrines.

It is clear that without the BRAC WASH programme the ultra-poor would barely have access to sanitation. Without the grant for latrine construction, the twin pits and twin-pit offset latrines are not affordable to the ultra-poor amounting to almost 6% of the reported income. The amounts being spent by the poor on latrine construction clearly exceed the international benchmarks reaching 5% of reported household income which demonstrates a high willingness to pay for improved sanitation facilities. However, operational and capital maintenance requirements to deliver a basic service are affordable even to the lower socio-economic groups.

The improvements seen in the sanitation services from baseline to endline of BRAC WASH I clearly demonstrate that in the long term, continuous investment in behaviour change results in better service delivery. However, if service levels are to be maintained over time and to get the most out of the investments, it is essential that households, donors and programme managers need to understand how much is required to meet the ongoing, recurrent costs of service delivery and who will fund them. A reduction in the BRAC grant will lead to less coverage of the most vulnerable groups of the population.

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