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(Problems of averages aside) What is the average fully loaded cost/liter of clean water provision for a rural system?

I was hoping you could help me with something. I have a question about cost of water provision/liter, and the big issue here, obviously, is that the cost of water provision is going to be vastly different in each country, with different systems, even just because of community context. This in mind, what do you think a fully loaded cost is of providing one cubic liter of water is? I'd be interested in numbers from certain countries, or if there is a general average I can point to. Thank you!

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Are you interested in rural or urban or both? Per se in cubic litres? The WASHCost Share tool referred to below is only looking at cost per person (design vs. actual) at the moment. But there are other references available I'll look up.

Nicolas Dickinson gravatar imageNicolas Dickinson ( 2015-06-05 05:08:24 -0500 )edit

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A good place to start is the WASHCost calculator:

Nearly everywhere in the world (including developed countries) water is too cheap to cover the service lifecycle costs, so there is often a big gap between what it is and what it should be.

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Thanks Sean. We now call it WASHCost Share to emphasize the sharing of cost information as these can vary greatly.

Nicolas Dickinson gravatar imageNicolas Dickinson ( 2015-06-05 05:09:49 -0500 )edit

I did work in Rwanda in the 90s on this for rural improved springs, gravity schemes and pumped schemes. Could look out if this would be of interest. I seem to remember that we looked at: running costs; replacement costs and even capital repayment, so three levels of costing, although calculations would need reviewing....

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As you are looking for costs per cubic meter, if you are interested in Urban, you may want to look here at the IBNET Bluebook on page 16 where there is a table of operation and maintenance costs. I'm sure you can also find the capital expenditure:

Finally, it is important what Sean mentions about the full life-cycle costs and I encourage you to go through the WASHCost resources to learn more about it, including the indirect and direct support costs incurred to ensure a working regulatory and enabling environment so that services are sustainable.

The caveat is that WASHCost initially used the denominator of the number of people the system is designed for and the number of people actually served in a service area. Those two denominators yield quite different costs. Also if you are looking per cubic meter, you will also find very different costs, yet the service levels in rural areas are much lower and people tend to use much less water (from formal sources) so that will also affect your calculations.

Ultimately, the WASHCost Share tool tried to enable sharing of these figures but does so per person. Adding a per cubic metre cost would also have added value. In fact, IRC did do a study for UNHCR camps where we did both but I don't think it is published. IBNET has quite an extensive database of costs online for urban areas but may not have data for each country.

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This has some good reference numbers (per person, but it also mentions population and water usage this is based on) for rural growth centres, and some food for thought regarding the old question if piped supply systems are "too expensive".

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2015-06-03 19:12:33 -0500
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Jun 06 '15