Published on: 04/03/2013
Toilets need maintenance if they are not to fall into disrepair. A 3-country study showed that households spent US$ 0- US$ 3 per toilet per year on maintenance. In more urban areas and for more expensive toilets this was up to US$ 20 per year.
Toilets built with free and very low-cost materials need a lot of work to counter the effects of daily use and influence of the local climate. Choices are to let them deteriorate and go back to open defecation when they become no longer safe and private enough to use, or to repair and if needed rebuild them with the same materials, or to upgrade them into a more durable model. The Village Education Resource Centre (VERC) advocates a wide range of models and found that in their area toilet upgrading is the most common strategy, including by the poor. Unfortunately the study does not include data to show the representativeness of the sampling. Eco-san toilets are expensive to install but research in Nepal showed that thanks to the value of the fertilizers they pay back the investment in about eight years. They then make a profit that is worth ten times the annual maintenance costs of conventional toilets.