Operating costs of dry sanitation (UDDTs) - and is 5% of household income a reasonable target?

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Re: RTTC cost calculation: including capital costs?

And thank you very much, Christoph!

To be fair, let me add that the Ugandan Government, more specifically the Ministry for Water and Environment, is actually attempting to promote sanitation and more specifically ecological sanitation in the small towns of Northern Uganda, unfortunately with little emphasis on low cost solutions. It's something we already have discussed elsewhere on this forum.

In water supply projects, the MoWE is linking the reduced water connection fee to the availability of a toilet. That is a mechanism that has helped drastically increase sanitation coverage in Adjumani. In addition, five demonstration ecosan toilets (made of brick and mortar) were built and given to selected residents.

Elisabeth, would you know the link to the Austrian project in SW, which has been the initiator of such activities here in Uganda?

Edit on 7 May 2014 by EvM: This question has now been answered here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/34-uri...mit=12&start=12#8499

H-A
Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
presently in Seesen, Germany

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Re: RTTC cost calculation: including capital costs?

Hi H-A,

and for the time you must have invested into research about Uganda and Kampala, in particular.

I am lucky, I have "privileged" information without having been to Uganda and Kampala ;)
Therefore it didn´t cost me too much time.

Thanks again for the interesting exchange.

Yours

Christoph

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Re: RTTC cost calculation: including capital costs?

Hi Christoph,

Thanks for your post - and for the time you must have invested into research about Uganda and Kampala, in particular.

I think you've now made your points a lot more clear. Concerning the issue of conventional sewage systems, I completely agree with you. I also don't like them as they tend to mix everything together and make cleaning of the water and resource recovery very difficult. In addition, the costs are prohibitive.

Concerning that example from Kampala you are mentioning: As far as know, the project is meant to reduce pollution of Lake Victoria, where fish stocks and even the intake for the water supply are being polluted by untreated waste water. The treatment facility is targeting an open drain that is discharging WW from both residential and industrial sources. Apparently, there are also sewer lines included in the project. In my view, the project is highlighting in what dire state sanitation and waste water treatment actually is in Uganda. You can see that even with that massive investment of 96 mil. Euro, only less than 14 % of the population (excluding slum areas which would have few water connections) in Kampala are being reached!

A small addition to what you have reported about Kampala (which, of course, is a very special 'high profile' case here in Uganda): The emptying of pit latrines is performed by private pit emptiers, usually using a cesspool emptying truck. In the towns upcountry, people ('the poor') usually don't ever have their latrines emptied. If full, and if space permits, they are usually rebuilt in a different location, which comes out more cheap to the owners. That is one thing that makes the traditional pit latrines 'rock bottom' in terms of costs.

Otherwise, I have little objection to what you are writing. I think, where we differ most is concerning the role of the government in promoting sanitation. I wouldn't rely too much on the government, whether local or central. I think what we did in Adjumani, i.e. use a sanitation levy on piped water in order to finance special parts used in the construction of ecosan toilets, is about as much as you can expect from local government. And central government can come in with some donor money for a (rather limited) sewage system. In the case of Adjumani, I was discouraging such ideas because we couldn't even be sure to get enough connections (at a monthly fee) in order to maintain the system.

A little addition to my previous post: 'Anschlusskosten' of 10 000.- Euro would, in addition to the water, sewage and electricity connections, also include road access to the plot, usually tar-marked or paved, and storm water drainage - so it's the complete investment of getting the plot 'connected' (for those who are not familiar with the term). I think that's the correct approach. And concerning the sewer 'donations' in East Germany, I am sure that was meant to have East Germany catch up with West Germany after reunification. At least that's the argument, so it's not the usual situation.

And in Uganda, it's not so different, but road access is usually for free, government paid. There is a connection fee for water supply, but since water supply systems are usually paid for by donors, that fee is usually rather symbolic. And I am sure, if a sewer system is financed by donors (rather rarely, as I have mentioned), the connection fee would also not be cost covering. But with small bore sewers, which are getting increasingly popular, there is a need of a septic tank or a withholding tank for every connection - which in my view is a good thing since it is requiring polluters to contribute to clean up their mess.

And concerning the neighbourhood toilets mentioned in you article, five of them (all ecosan upon request of the locals) were constructed in Adjumani. It is still to be seen how they are going to perform in the longer term. In any case, it is not the approach of GIZ anymore here in Uganda, at least in small towns, because we would like something which is more demand driven.

Hope that made some interesting reading,

Cheers, H-A
Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
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Re: RTTC cost calculation: including capital costs?

Dear H-A,

Yes I changed the post, as I thought, I might be misleading in the way I wrote it. And I am very far from wanting to offend. I like our discussion because it is very much to the center of my concern about getting forward in sanitation.

When I saw that you answered, I my first thought was that this will be almost the end of our exchange as all arguments are exchanged – but no, you provided me a clear impression where I did not myself clear still.

I will try that now.

1. Sewage systems are usually by no means free of charge for the users. In Uganda, it's only international donors who sometimes (rarely) hand out sewage systems or treatment plants at almost no cost to the users - I haven't heard the government is doing that. In Germany, they are talking of 'Anschlusskosten' in the order of 10 000.- Euro for every plot for water, sewage and electricity connections. That's not exactly free of charge.

In all countries I have been to, the investment in water and sanitation is a task which is supported by the government. Even in Germany a lot of investment has been directly from tax money. (remember the discussion when the wall came down and there have been build the oversized systems in the east – most of it 100% financed by the federal government). In countries as Peru, Bolivia, South Africa, Brazil (just some I know personally) the government has VERY large investment programs to enhance sanitation, normally about 80% - 100% are financed by the government and often the municipalities or sanitation companies look for the other 0-20% looking for international donors. Therefore the sanitation tarif mainly does not comply investment (CAPEX).
Typically the international donors give money in agreement with the government of the country. That is the point I am referring to, when I say the government gives the money. For instance KfW is making a huge investment in Sewer and Treatment plant in Kampala. www.kampala.diplo.de/contentblob/3852396...r_and_Sanitation.pdf



This is the money I am referring to which should be used to go for another way of sanitation because with the same amount you use for the conventional sanitation, you could do a complete system and more when you set up a service model for decentralized sanitation. We showed that in a theoretical calculation in 2008 www.susana.org/docs_ccbk/susana_download...ona-final-170509.pdf
We did that calculation because the typical argument was… you tell us the decentralized toilets are cheaper but you do compare two levels of sanitation. Prove us that the concept is cheaper even when the “quality of the service is the same”. So our aim in that publication was to show that a complete model which treats everything and all products and offers the same quality as a conventional model is cheaper. And it was, and by far. Once proven that, the next step should be.. it is better to serve 100 with a basic service, than 10 with a perfect service (both secure form a ambiental stand point) and by that concentrating on the access to save sanitation. This is the central problem for centralized conventional sanitation. You can not serve sanitation without serving water, without putting a sewer in an organized way. In a service model for UDDT or may be pit latrines you could even attend temporary buildings.

And there are tries. KfW is going down that road as well as you can see here (cutting form the document linked above) but there are a lot of institutional issues (see part two in this post)



As there is money for Northern Uganda – might be a way for you to link to.
Discussing the “Anschlusskosten” – connection costs is another set of arguments, I will leave that out as I was not mentioning these costs. I was not arguing that sanitation is given or should be given free of charge, I just concentrated on the money which is spend on investment measures in conventional systems, which could be used to provide a quality basic sanitation service which does not cost more than 5% of the family income.

2. In Uganda, the responsibility for sanitation systems lies with the land owners, not the government. By law, every household is supposed to have a toilet, apartment buildings can share one. The municipalities are the entities that can enforce that law or otherwise encourage the construction of toilets (as we did in Adjumani).


I don´t know Uganda very well, but from what I understood there are three responsabilities:

• The responsibility for a toilet lies with the land owner,
• The responsibility for centralized sanitation (at least in Kampala) with NWSC (national water and sanitation utility)
• And the responsibility for a pitlatrine emptying service by KCCA (Municipality)

And this are the most crucial points. A government donor can not give money to a Landlord, a service model is in the hands of the municipality and the treatment in the responsibility of the national sanitation provider.

And here I see the main problem. Let’s see were we agree.

1. Toilets have to be affordable, 5 cents per user per day are still way too high, 1-2 cents can possibly work.

Ok in your case. Lets take that as given 1-2 cents (it is a 100% difference between 1-2) so the government money has to be used to get the costs down for the user and eneble a 1-2 Cent solution – the kind of the solution has to be adopted to the family income of 30 U$/month if we calculate 1 use per day – womens at least might have to use the bathroom at least twice.

2. We don't need the same toilet system for everybody, i.e. what works for the well-to-do doesn't have to work for the poor, and vice versa. All we need is something that works out for the poor.

I agree. The toilet system has to be adopted to the economic reality of the persons. Solutions with 30 - 60 U$/family,month family income have to have a financially doable solution for them.

Some other aspects we might agree:

a) In most cases a centralized sanitation service (sewers) can not be the solution for poor urban areas.
b) Money which normally would be invested in a centralized infrastructure could be used to build up a service model for decentralized sanitation

Up to here?

How about these?

c) We have to find a model which enables to provide sanitation to the person which is living at the place, not give anything to a landlord. This could be a revolving found for the landlords who are interested in building toilets for their clients or a MOSAN, GANA SAN, ECLOET typ of toilet which gan be given to a user on a lending base (expensive)

d) We have to overcome the institutional problems between the different players – there fore the point I mentioned in my last post – we have to search for institutional settings which are favorable to prove a new and therefore for sure problematic concept. If not we end up in a situation wich concludes “I always knew that a decentralized service model by a sanitation provider (or outsourced to a private company) does not work”.

Yours
Christoph
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Re: RTTC cost calculation: including capital costs?

Hi Christoph,

Thanks for your post, and please excuse my late response - I have been traveling as of late. And good you've edited your post in the meantime - I really had a hard time understanding some of what you were writing originally, but now it's more clear.

Your suggestion of using an amount equivalent to the investment into a sewage system for an alternative service for the poor is worth thinking about. But I think there are at least two misconceptions in your demand:

1. Sewage systems are usually by no means free of charge for the users. In Uganda, it's only international donors who sometimes (rarely) hand out sewage systems or treatment plants at almost no cost to the users - I haven't heard the government is doing that. In Germany, they are talking of 'Anschlusskosten' in the order of 10 000.- Euro for every plot for water, sewage and electricity connections. That's not exactly free of charge.

2. In Uganda, the responsibility for sanitation systems lies with the land owners, not the government. By law, every household is supposed to have a toilet, apartment buildings can share one. The municipalities are the entities that can enforce that law or otherwise encourage the construction of toilets (as we did in Adjumani).

So, there is no commitment on the part of the central government neither in terms of coverage of sewage systems nor in terms of toilet construction. Should there be such a commitment? I personally don't think so. The Government of Uganda already has commitments in terms of free primary education, a free basic health care, etc., and I think it would completely over stretch the government's resources to also include support for sanitation on that list. - Even if they were to get rid of their fighter jets and invest the money into sanitation... So, it's not about taking money away from the poor or supporting the rich only.

And then, big government programs are not the way for a new technology to succeed. In order for a technology like an innovative toilet to catch on, it has to meet the needs and the budget of the target population - government can only popularize the technology. Take the pit latrine as an example of an affordable sanitation technology. In spite of its drawbacks, it has been very successful among the poor, and it is now setting the standard (to be beaten) for anything to come next.

My point of view? I have been advising municipalities here in Uganda as an advisor sent by GIZ, so it's that perspective of the municipality and its advisor that I am usually taking. In that connection, please note: I am NOT speaking for GIZ as I am posting on this site!

And concerning your three demands: It's precisely in order to reach the low income sections of society that I have been arguing:
1. Toilets have to be affordable, 5 cents per user per day are still way too high, 1-2 cents can possibly work.
2. We don't need the same toilet system for everybody, i.e. what works for the well-to-do doesn't have to work for the poor, and vice versa. All we need is something that works out for the poor.

I hope I am clear!

Hear from you, H-A
Hanns-Andre Pitot
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Re: RTTC cost calculation: including capital costs?

Hi H-A,

I guess we have two different views. My view comes from a water utility position.
I look at everything in sanitation from the view point of a water and sanitation provider.
Your view seems to be more from the NGO side as you seem not to trust governments or public services and maybe you have a more rural “view” point?

My strong believe is: bad or good – the public services are THE ONLY way to go forward in sanitation in dense urban areas on a sustainable base and in large numbers.

You might argue… but see the results, the only ones who got something going are the private entrepreneurs or the NGOs. Yes there are some examples, yes there is a lack for good models. But to be fast you have to do it with the sanitation provider. There is a sanitation provider good or bad in EVERY slightly larger city.

So the international community of governments and the local governments have to be won. When say admit
1. we are not concentrating on the main problem
2. we are leaving out an important part of the world population
3. we have to search for real solutions
than suddenly we might get to a situation where the panorama changes rapidly.

I think we are not far from that point. We have a discussion about..who really gets access to water an sanitation by international aid money. We also have a discussion about counting the "improved sanitation". We are still a much longer way from a point where the service provider admits the three points mentioned above.

The call form BMG is the right way (in my opinion), it will identify open minded providers and I believe than there are huge possibilities to get solutions going with less than 5% income use for sanitation for the 20% percentile.

Look at ethekwini (Durban) – they are offering services for everybody with less than 5% income use. They provide the service and use public money for the poor – as for the rich. You proposed (I put it in a polemic way, don´t take it bad please) that only the rich receive a government service. In Uganda (and in many places all over the world) WWTP and sewers are build with no cost for the population (for the investment) – but not for the poor (as the basic conditions you need to implant a sewerage system are not given). So why not use an (at least) equivalent sum to build up an alternative service for the poor?

CP
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Re: RTTC cost calculation: including capital costs?

Christoph,

interesting indeed! And it does look as though we disagree on some points.

But when it comes to that 5% figure, it seems to me that it IS a useful measure for what people can pay for sanitation. - But to me, that would rather be a reason to try especially hard to find a technical solution that fits the 5% figure even for the very poor before thinking of government support. Let me try to explain!

Here in Uganda, those who earn around or less than 2 dollars a day are not a lower percentile - it's the majority. Even schoolteachers or policemen are not earning more than around 4 dollars a day! So, if a technology is to be successful, it has to fit these earnings, otherwise you are predetermining large scale government intervention.

What we are really talking about here in Uganda, however, would be donor interventions - the government wouldn't make that kind of money available for sanitation. It's more interested in roads or fighter jets (yes, there is money for that, here in Uganda)! So, either we develop a technology that fits the 5% of earnings for the majority of the population, and that would be 1 to 2 cents per day per user, or we are pre-programming long term donor interventions. So, in my view, not a good prospect for the Gates Foundation, if they stick to their 5 cents figure! Let alone sustainability in terms of user acceptance!

That might, however, be a bit different in Latin America, where costs and income levels seem to be a bit higher.

And when it comes to the costs of servicing, it really depends on the resources you have available. Lack of funds promotes creativity, and that is where this feature of resource recovery of ecosan toilets can come very handy. There are some examples of successes in that regard: In Nairobi, specifically in African's largest slum Kibera, they are apparently operating very many public ecosan toilets (I don't remember the figure), and producing and selling compost in a cost covering way.

Ok, there are not many success stories like that, and even in Adjumani, we were experiencing many challenges, but if you don't try, you'll never succeed!

Looking forward to see your response, H-A
Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
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Dear H-A,

a really interesting discussion.
I don´t agree with you on some aspects which I would like to point out.

The 5 Cent issue…obviously this depends on the country, but from my point of view a family income of 180 U$ /month is not totally out of order. But more important.. do you agree on the 5% limit idea?

I do see a problem with lower costs when you have to have a service model and I do have the impression we differ on that point. You seem to have a strong focus on constructing the toilet (self- cleaning by the user) while I do not trust the user and have my focus on a guarantee for a long term operation.

When your neighbor is an example for the below 20% percentile, the government would have to support the toilet operation or implementation to get to …2 U$/d * 22 d/month /5% =2,2 Cent/use (without bureaucracy). On the other hand I would not like to give “free” sanitation for everybody when they can afford sanitation because this is money the really poor people could not have access to. Therefore it is important where to draw the line of poverty which needs specific support.

Your point

But then, if excrements can be turned into saleable products, like compost, sales of these products can help reduce the servicing costs.

Is an aspect we strongly differ. I believe that a reuse aspect should not be linked to a sanitation aspect. If it is possible great, but if not.. sanitation should be the priority, so one should not count on the sale aspect.
And now CLTS – hmmm…. I am not very fond of CLTS but I admit, I don´t have practical experience as it is not an issue here in LA.
About the government contribution. I think it should be for onsite sanitation (at least) be the same amount/ pe. as for centralized sanitation.

See you
Christoph

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PS:
TP = toilet paper
Hanns-Andre Pitot
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Christoph, it looks as though you are really supportive of the poor, but things don't quite work out that way.

Concerning your question and your assumption: Yes, of course I think 5 cents per user per day are too high for those with very low income - I think I made it clear in my 1st post. I was even suggesting to target one cent per user per day. And no, I don't agree that everybody has to have the same invested in his/her sanitation facilities. Let me try to explain:

I am working with a colleague here in Moroto, Uganda who is earning about 2 dollars a day. He is the foreman of the so-called road gang, which is maintaining roads. In addition, he is doing work in water supply and replaces the water officer of the municipality when he is not in the office. He doesn't care what toilets the rich and well-to-do (people like me) use, as long as his toilet works out for him (at the moment he is sharing a toilet with his neighbours, probably a pit latrine). He thinks that 2 cents per day for the toilet can work for him, and that 5 cents are really too high. And he doesn't want to be dependant on government programmes to be able to afford his toilet, with all the bureaucracy and corruption that this may entail. Of course, 2 cents per day per user may result in about 10 cents per day if you have a family, and that's 5% of 2 dollars a day.

Is it possible to reach these 2 cents per user per day? Of course, it is. I think the toilet we constructed in Adjumani is showing the way, but I am still seeing a lot of possibilities for further cost reduction. And I am sure that adobe as a construction material is a good idea in that regard - your own figures are supporting that point of view.

And then, we need to tackle that issue of the costs of TP! Suitable plants or trees, where they are available, would be one way of solving the problem. Then, there is the use of (a little) water for anal cleaning, so that I would suggest that toilets should be designed for washers as a matter of principle. It's something we haven't really considered, when I was in Adjumani.

And when it comes to servicing, I would agree, that in a city environment, some kind of servicing costs will be arising, more than in Adjumani, where the composting facility is offering free collections. But then, if excrements can be turned into saleable products, like compost, sales of these products can help reduce the servicing costs. So, it should not be very dramatic and still fit into the 2 cents per day at least here in Uganda. But that would certainly depend on the situation.

To return to the government programmes: As you may have heard, in India, the concept of CLTS - Community-Led Total Sanitation has arisen - specifically as a response to large government programs of constructing toilets for the poor, programs that have consistently failed. One of the demands of CLTS is that people come up for the costs of their toilets themselves. I would totally agree with that and suggest to add an aspect of resource recovery - for both economic and environmental reasons.

But I am not completely against government subsidies. In Adjumani, we had a small 'tax' called sanitation levy on the fees of piped water (5%), which we used to buy the components used to divert the urine in UDDTs (the so-called ecopans and the piping). Everybody who is constructing an ecosan toilet is entitled to get these components for free. The reason we were doing that was more for practical reasons in order to make these components available than to specifically support the poor. But it was helping, and the price of constructing an ecosan toilet was reduced by 10 to 20% in that way.

The sanitation levy was also meant to buy compost for the purpose of town beautification as they call it - planting of trees and ornamentals in town. That was also meant to stabilise the composting activity economically, which is run as a business - admittedly with still quite some challenges.

But I think I now have written enough, and I hope my point is becoming clear!

Greetings, H-A
Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
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Re: RTTC cost calculation: including capital costs?

Dear Hanns Andre,

even in the light of maybe causing a discussion I would like to ask something. Do you really think 5 Cent/use is too high? We should limit us to situations in dense urban areas, as rural areas do have other possibilities than urban areas, therefore we should agree that a service model is necessary.

a) We should “invest” in the poor areas the same amount as we do in the richer areas. So if a sewer and a treatment plant has a cost of let’s say 100 U$/person, this should be invested as well in offsite sanitation. So this value could be subtracted of the cost for the family, even though it is there for an economic comparison.

b) There is a number which estimates the “bearable” cost for water and sanitation in about 5% of the family income.

A cost / use of 5 Cent/use would be for a family of 5 persons (5*3*30/100) 4,5 U$/family,month. If we say that the cost for a family should not be higher than 5% of the family income and we see that the cost for sanitation might be (roughly – depending case to case) in 50% of the cost for water and sanitation, in this example the family income would have to be higher than 180 U$/month. The determination of the hight of the family income calcs are based on another large issue (not discussed in this post).

I would apply a 20% percentile of all incomes as a base. People who have less should apply for a specific aid. But for the rest I would think that the donation or payment by the government has to guarantee, that the 5% limit for water and sanitation is not passed or…in this example if the 20% percentile family income is below 180 U$ the government has to put money to bring down investment costs, pay part of the operational costs or both.

Let’s keep thinking. Did I express myself clearly?

Christoph
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Re: RTTC cost calculation: including capital costs?

Dear Christoph, dear all,

I wouldn't give up so easily, Christoph! I think using a similar construction material is already a good basis for comparison. But isn't the important point here that 5 cents per user per day is simply too high as a target? In both of our examples, what we consider to be low cost is less or around 2 cents. And I would disagree to include all kinds of costs like water supply (for a dry toilet!) or dissemination - these are costs not seen by the users!

By the way, in the Adjumani example, the figure comes out 1.84 cents! I have no problem if you call it two cents :). Of course, emptying not included. This would be adding about 2 dollars per year in terms of yearly costs. But I am sure that among low income people very few would ever think of spending that money.

Another issue would be to include toilet paper in the operating costs. That's a real issue for many, since good a replacement may a lot of times not be available. That comes out to at least 3 cents per user per day! More than the toilet itself! And it explains why TP is so unpopular among the poor. Ok, if we add the two together (2 + 3), we actually get 5 cents per day. Maybe that's what is meant by the Gates Foundation?

Cheers, H-A
Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
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