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Published on: 01/07/2011

Dr Nyarko explained that WASHCost is an action research project that researches the life-cycle costs of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in rural and peri-urban areas in four countries including Ghana. He said the rationale behind the research work is to stimulate the use of cost information to improve governance and decision making at all levels of the sector to ensure sustainability of WASH projects.

He continued that, to be able to understand what truly constitute the cost of delivering sustainable WASH services it is important to look, not only at the initial capital investment costs in providing the WASH services like boreholes or latrines, but also other related cost in order to get the actual cost of service delivery to ensure service sustainability.

‘To help understand this other related cost elements, WASHCost project has developed a framework for assessing and understanding these other cost components which are not considered  when costing service delivery’ and this is where the Life Cycle Cost Approach comes in. The Life-cycle costs (LCC), refer to the total costs of ensuring adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to a specific population in a determined geographical area which must be for a lifetime and not just for some few years.

Dr Nyarko gave the components of the Life Cycle Cost to include: firstly, Capital expenditure (CapEx), which is the initial capital invested in constructing the facility. Secondly, Operational and minor maintenance expenditure (OpEx)-cost on minor repairs, labour, fuel, chemicals, materials, or regular purchases of bulk water. Thirdly, Capital maintenance expenditure (CapManEx) which is typically infrequent but a relatively higher expenditure on large items like replacing pumps of storage tanks or occasional emptying of latrines. Fourthly, Expenditure on Direct Support (ExpDS)-Expenditure on support to local-level service providers, users or user groups. Fifthly, Expenditure on Indirect Support (ExpIDS) like planning and policy-making, developing and maintaining frameworks and institutional arrangements, capacity-building for professionals and technicians. And lastly, Cost of capital (CoC)–like the interest on borrowed capital for service.

Dr Nyarko disclosed that efforts at increasing water supply levels at rural areas are thwarted mainly because at any given moment 30 percent of the systems in the rural areas are non-functional. This he attributed to non-inclusion of capital maintenance costs in budgeting, low operation and maintenance allocations, poor cost recovery, poor WASH sector governance and the absence of lifecycle planning for the systems.

He said the LCCA could be put to many uses, including to determine appropriate cost for activities of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), to provide inputs in the activities of the District Water and Sanitation Planning (DWSP) and used as a benchmark to cost against service delivered and actual service received.

Dr Nyarko concluded by calling on the WASH sector to consider using LCCA to support planning, budgeting and implementation of sector activities.

WASHCost Project Ghana

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