Thursday, 27 March 2008

EcoSan costs − again

I received by e-mail the other day e-Bulletin #61 from WASTE. It contained a rather alarming statement on EcoSan costs in India − I quote:

The household compost ecological sanitation toilet was a new sanitation technology to Musiri [the project town]. Its cost of construction (INR 4,500) was also higher than traditional latrines (INR 1,200), which were however unsafe. To promote the technology it was decided to subsidise most of these higher costs. However, it was deemed essential that users would pay for part of its construction. Initially their contribution was set at INR 1,300 (EUR 20) per household.

Why is this alarming? Well, what I would have done would have been to see how much it would have cost to improve the “unsafe” traditional latrines, and my guess is that this would have been a lot less than the cost of an EcoSan toilet. So why wasn’t this done? The answer to this question probably has something to do with the desire “to promote the technology”. However, I can’t imagine that SIDA, GTZ and DGIS [the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs] have enough money between them to give a 70% subsidy for every new EcoSan toilet in India (or indeed elsewhere), so why do they continue to promote such an expensive sanitation technology? Do they really think that this is a responsible thing to do − especially in IYS2008?