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Dear Matt Damon…

Published on: 15/01/2014

This blog post is a response to the video posted by Matt Damon, co-founder of water.org, where he announces a toilet strike to raise awareness for the water crisis. It was first published on WASH Finance, where it has started a lively discussion.

Dear Matt,

I enjoyed your video on water.org about going on a toilet strike. But I'd like to raise just a small point about the costs you mention.

It is great that you are so passionate about realising access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for all. And that you bring some humour into our sometimes dull sector.

But in your video you mention that it costs US$25 to provide a person with sanitation for life. This is not true. Over the past four years IRC’s WASHCost project in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Andhra Pradesh (India) and Mozambique has collected, validated and analysed cost and service level information for water, sanitation and hygiene. Based on this research we know that for US$ 25 you can construct a traditional pit latrine with an impermeable slab which provides a basic service. In order to sustain the service provided by that traditional pit latrine it costs between US$ 1.5 and US$ 4 per person per year – so to provide sanitation for life means finding that US$ 1.5-4 every year …. for life. If you do not know how, or by whom, these recurrent costs will be financed, it is very likely that the latrine you are constructing today will break down or not be used within two to three years, wasting your investment.

To provide sanitation for life means finding  US$1.5 - US$4 per person per year... for life.

If you would like to know more about how you can better plan, budget and monitor for sustainable services, join our free online Costing Sustainable Services course. In this online course you can engage in discussions with IRC staff and meet 600 water sector professionals from around the world interested in planning and budgeting for sustainable and equitable water, sanitation and hygiene services, using a life-cycle cost approach. The course is accessible 24 hours per day and you can follow it at your own pace, so it is easy to combine with your other work.

Of course nothing beats a face-face exchanging of ideas, so you are always welcome to visit us at our office in The Hague, The Netherlands, or participate in one of our workshops on costing sustainable services.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Kind regards,

Jeske Verhoeven
Programme Officer
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

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