Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Good News for IYS2008!

I’ve been searching the literature for papers giving benefit-cost ratios for sanitation (a benefit-cost ratio of x means that every USD 1 invested in providing improved/adequate sanitation produces economic benefits to society of USD x − if x >1, it’s a good investment). Guy Hutton, of the Swiss Tropical Institute (now with WSP East Asia & the Pacific in Phnom Penh), very kindly sent me two excellent reports: Meeting the Water and Sanitation Millennium Development Goal (ERM for DFID, 2005 − not available on-line) and Economic and Health Effects of Increasing Coverage of Low-Cost Water and Sanitation Interventions (a background paper for HDR 2006 by WHO & STI). The first shows that in the 12 countries studied (Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh, China, India, Cambodia and Sri Lanka) the benefit-cost ratios for sanitation investments were in the range 5−23, depending on the country. The second derived benefit-cost ratios for water investments, sanitation investments, and water and sanitation investments, for 15 selected countries (none of which is currently on track to meet the MDG water target and/or sanitation target) for meeting the MDG targets and those for universal coverage (i.e., water and/or sanitation for everyone), as follows:
So the benefit-cost ratios for sanitation investments to meet the MDG sanitation target are 1.6−13, and about the same for those to meet the universal coverage target, and − most importantly − they’re all higher than the corresponding benefit-cost ratio for water. Information like this is very useful to persuade Ministries of Finance/Economic Affairs to provide funds for sanitation. So it’s really excellent to have all this in IYS2008.