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Enabling informed choices

Published on: 14/10/2012

To choose the sanitation product or service that households want and can afford, couples (both men and women) need access to information on which they can base their choice.

‘Informed’ choice of toilets, for example, can refer to different types of toilet, their pros and cons, the design and the costs of a whole toilet and its components, along with possibilities to reduce costs.

In 2006, NWP, WASTE, PRACTICA, IRC, SIMAVI, and Partners for Water published Smart Sanitation Solutions, an overview of technology options for low-cost toilets with information for informed choices. AKVO and WASTE have published a sanitation e-tool to facilitate sanitation choices for practitioners. Besides advantages and limitations, this includes links to construction manuals, videos and reference documents. VERC in Bangladesh developed a catalogue of local designs for low-cost rural household latrines, published at the back of a revolutionizing sanitation approach paper.

Earlier, the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology cooperated with IRC to develop a technology manual with choices for water supply and sanitation hardware in Bangladesh. For WHO, IRC developed a catalogue of technology options, which gave not only construction details and costs, but also operation and maintenance costs and software aspects. WSP has published a catalogue of improved latrine technologies. Within the SSH4A project the Bhutan team has developed an information sheet for DIY toilet options.

The sanitation marketing project in Cambodia developed one A4 sheet, depicted below, to facilitate user decision. The sheet can be photocopied easily at a cost of US$ 0,01 per sheet. The sheet gives information on the design, components, costs and installation steps of the Easy Latrine, the low-cost easy to build pour-flush toilet produced, promoted and built by franchise companies.

 
 
 

Long-term costs and benefits of technology options

In making informed choices users may also be influenced by longer term costs and benefits. This includes costs of emptying, possibilities to use urine and faeces for various forms of production and financial gains from such uses.  

In 2008, ENPHO compared the cost and income of different types of sanitation systems in Nepal in a peri-urban location of Kathmandu. A low-cost model of a urine-diversion composting toilet costs about as much to install as a double-vault pour-flush composting toilet, but had a much higher rate of return and were also superior in net costs to septic tank toilets. Of the 500 toilets tested over five years 97% in various countries in East Africa are well-maintained and used.

A study in Zimbabwe also shows a positive rate-of-return from eco-toilets through the use of free fertilizer.

Further information about materials referred to in the article:
  • Smart Sanitation Solutions is an overview of technology options for low-cost toilets with information for informed choices.
  • AKVO and WASTE have published a sanitation e-tool to facilitate sanitation choices for practitioners.
  • VERC in Bangladesh developed a catalogue of local designs for low-cost rural household latrines (download below).
  • the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology cooperated with IRC to develop a technology manual with choices for water supply and sanitation hardware in Bangladesh.
  • IRC developed a catalogue of technology options, which gave not only construction details and costs, but also operation and maintenance costs and software aspects.
  • WSP has published a catalogue of improved latrine technologies (download below).
  • Within the SSH4A project the Bhutan team has developed an information sheet for DIY toilet options (link below).
  • The sanitation marketing project in Cambodia developed one A4 sheet to facilitate user decision (link below).
  • In 2008, ENPHO compared the cost and income of different types of sanitation systems in Nepal in a peri-urban location of Kathmandu.
  • Of the 500 toilets tested over five years 97% in various countries in East Africa are well-maintained and used.
  • A study in Zimbabwe also shows a positive rate-of-return from eco-toilets through the use of free fertilizer.

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