Quick financial sustainability check | Sanitation Hackathon

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Quick financial sustainability check

Short description 

A quick and easy way for practitioners to check chances of sustainable sanitation by comparing life-cycle costs with desired service levels.

Crisis statement 

There is limited data available of the cost of sanitation services. The key here is to look at the quality of sanitation facilities and services provided (e.g. is it clean, is waste disposed of safely?) rather than just the type of latrine. While some analysis of the cost of installing a technology has been done, the full life-cycle costs of sanitation services are not widely understood in the sector.

Since these costs are not understood by sanitation projects and programmes, there is a major risk to sustainability. Unrealistic and unknown expectations are set during project preparation and no actions are taken to ensure that households can cover sanitation-related expenditures in the medium to long term. The burden of covering capital expenditure (construction), operational expenditure (cleaning), capital maintenance (pit-emptying, major rehabilitations), cost of capital (loans) is typically left to households and direct and indirect support (monitoring) is left to government.

Finally, with available data, we can give decision makers and practitioners a sense of what is realistic expenditure over time. Together, we can plan for it in the future so that latrines remain clean, are emptied on time, and people continue to practice safe sanitation.


Needs statement 

The described tool will provide a quick and easy way for practitioners to check the chances of sustainability of their programmes by comparing life-cycle costs with desired service levels. It will be useful for planning, assessing sustainability from a cost perspective and for monitoring value for money. Target users are practitioners and planners that seek to improve the sustainability of new and existing sanitation services.



The WASHCost project published benchmark ranges of expenditure for different cost components described above and these can be used to provide an easy way for donors, practitioners, planners and others to check their own expenditures and whether they fit in this range. In addition, WASHCost has defined an easy way to define a sanitation service level. This has been turned into an interactive spreadsheet with 11 questions, which provides feedback on whether the expenditures in a particular programme may be higher or lower than the benchmark ranges available. 


We need an online and/or mobile phone tool that is available across a range of devices and gives easy access to the financial sustainability check.

It should also have a way to update data used to generate the benchmark ranges and default responses. Ideally, it should be easy to give other people access to the data used in the tool and provide links to relevant resources (publications) and trainings.

Finally, the tool should be fun and easy to use with visual feedback using the available data.

Impact statement 

A successful solution from the Hackathon will be the basis for further development of the tool by the WASHCost Calculator project, run by IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. This project will develop the tool to simplify the life-cycle costs analysis of water and sanitation services. 

These tools ease adoption of a life-cycle costs approach (LCCA) at a critical moment when more than 50 governments, multilaterals, training institutions INGOs and foundation are either using or planning to use the LCCA., ​This approach is a methodology for monitoring and costing sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services by assessing costs and comparing them against levels of service provided. Under the WASHCost project, the approach has been tested in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Andhra Pradesh (India) and Mozambique. The aim of the LCCA is to catalyse learning to improve the quality, targeting and cost effectiveness of service delivery.

The tool will be designed to help implementers of water, sanitation and hygiene programmes better plan, budget, manage and evaluate WASH service delivery models

An advanced version of the tool will be developed as well to forecast costs of services, analyse who is paying over time, assess baseline and target levels of service and associated risks. It will dynamically aggregate data on service delivery models from different organisations and pulls data from different databases when possible.



dickinson's picture

Check out our progress here: /quick-financial-sustainability-check-0

Or see @waternote on twitter and get more updates during the event and follow our other team members. Follow #SanHack for the full event worldwide.

At the London Westminster Hub, we’ve had help from James Tilbury, an engineer studying in Oxford. From Cranfield University, we had students Uta Zetek, Az Honi, and Mathew Flew. We discussed who the users are (project managers/planners) of this version of the app. An extension of it will be more interesting for governments and donors.

The core team of technologists that are staying on Sunday to help get this done are Heather Chisholm (UX), Wade Rimbach (UX), and Duncan Mackenzie (Web developer). Joining us from the Netherlands is Harry Oosterveen from IRC. 

Thanks everyone!

@DuncanMacWeb @harryoosterveen @heathachisholm @watupwade @LondonSanHack

Most of the team is introduced in this video (sorry to miss you Heather in this one): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI5SdOa-K5Y&feature=plcp

By |2022-07-06T11:36:33+00:00July 6, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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