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Table 2

Main determinants of urban sanitation financial costs

Determinant of costDescription
Type of technology This is the most obvious cost determinant. For instance, septic tanks do not have the same unit cost as traditional pit latrines, owing to very different design and material characteristics 
Labour cost Labour is needed to build and install on-site and treatment facilities, and also to extract and transport sludge in the case of FSM systems. Higher labour costs imply higher overall cost for sanitation systems 
Material and utility cost Different types of raw materials can be used to build a given sanitation facility. The cost of materials partly depends on their availability. Some studies for instance have pointed out that an identical sanitation component may cost significantly more in Africa than in Asia (or vice-versa) because supply markets are unequally developed. Transport vehicles also need to be purchased to convey sludge to treatment stations 
Density Density particularly affects the cost of sewerage systems. Higher densities allow reaching a larger number of people and thereby help to reduce cost per capita or per household. The World Bank indicates that ‘simplified sewer systems become cheaper than FSM systems at a population density of around 160 people per hectare’a. However, high densities may also make urban areas – in particular slums – more difficult to access, which may increase costs 
Topography Sanitation systems can be more easily put in place in flat areas. Projects undertaken in undulating urban areas may require more workmanship and time to achieve the same result 
Level of service provided by the sanitation system Different levels of service can be provided by the same sanitation system. For instance, a pit latrine could be installed for one household or several households, which would be likely to decrease the quality of the service, and also the costs 
Soil condition Bad soil conditions will require more time and more workmanship to install a sanitation component 
Energy cost Fuel and electricity are needed to power transport vehicles, pumps and treatment facilities. Higher energy costs imply higher costs for the overall sanitation system 
Others Distance to treatment facility, climate, end-use of treatment products, business models, water table height 
Determinant of costDescription
Type of technology This is the most obvious cost determinant. For instance, septic tanks do not have the same unit cost as traditional pit latrines, owing to very different design and material characteristics 
Labour cost Labour is needed to build and install on-site and treatment facilities, and also to extract and transport sludge in the case of FSM systems. Higher labour costs imply higher overall cost for sanitation systems 
Material and utility cost Different types of raw materials can be used to build a given sanitation facility. The cost of materials partly depends on their availability. Some studies for instance have pointed out that an identical sanitation component may cost significantly more in Africa than in Asia (or vice-versa) because supply markets are unequally developed. Transport vehicles also need to be purchased to convey sludge to treatment stations 
Density Density particularly affects the cost of sewerage systems. Higher densities allow reaching a larger number of people and thereby help to reduce cost per capita or per household. The World Bank indicates that ‘simplified sewer systems become cheaper than FSM systems at a population density of around 160 people per hectare’a. However, high densities may also make urban areas – in particular slums – more difficult to access, which may increase costs 
Topography Sanitation systems can be more easily put in place in flat areas. Projects undertaken in undulating urban areas may require more workmanship and time to achieve the same result 
Level of service provided by the sanitation system Different levels of service can be provided by the same sanitation system. For instance, a pit latrine could be installed for one household or several households, which would be likely to decrease the quality of the service, and also the costs 
Soil condition Bad soil conditions will require more time and more workmanship to install a sanitation component 
Energy cost Fuel and electricity are needed to power transport vehicles, pumps and treatment facilities. Higher energy costs imply higher costs for the overall sanitation system 
Others Distance to treatment facility, climate, end-use of treatment products, business models, water table height 

Sources:Dodane et al. (2012) and Ulrich et al. (2016).

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