Follow us
Publications Commentary Research People Events News Resources and Videos About IFS
Home Publications Editorial: WASH Economics and Financing: towards a better understanding of costs and benefits

Editorial: WASH Economics and Financing: towards a better understanding of costs and benefits

Britta Augsburg and Tristano Sainati
Journal article | Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

The case for investment in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has been convincingly made. WASH is essential for protecting public health, is a human right and investing in it is compelling from a fiscal and economic point of view. While the estimated $114 billion per year of capital investments required to meet universal access to safely managed water and sanitation services by 2030 is often portrayed as a hefty price tag, current best estimates of benefit-to-cost ratios leave little doubt about its value.

What is less clear is how to allocate resources efficiently. There is limited evidence on the cost efficiency and cost effectiveness of various policy and implementation choices. The underlying drivers of demand for (new) technologies and solutions are, for example, poorly understood, as is beneficiaries’ willingness to pay (WTP), leading to open questions about pricing policies and sustainable business models.

This is in contrast to other infrastructure sectors, such as energy and transport, where active literature on the economics and financing of services has been more helpful in defining national and international policy. Our objective with this Special Issue is to encourage the WASH sector to follow suit and start to effectively engage and research these issues.

At the heart of this Special Issue therefore, are papers which highlight some of the specificities, and challenges of conducting full economic evaluations of WASH interventions, provide a deeper understanding of potential solutions, and present new findings on costs and outcome measures, thereby contributing towards a fuller picture of WASH cost-effectiveness.

More on this topic

Report
Taxes can be used to better align the private costs and benefits of motoring with the social costs and benefits. This report sets out some key issues and policy options for ‘green’ motor taxes in SSA. It provides an overview of the principles of motor taxation, describes the policy context in ...
IFS Working Paper W21/27
Widespread misconceptions can be critical, especially in times of crisis. Through a field experiment, we study how to address such wrong or inaccurate beliefs using messages delivered to individual citizens using mobile phones. We focus on misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic in a ...
IFS Working Paper W21/23
One-quarter of married, fertile-age women in Sub-Saharan Africa report not wanting a pregnancy and yet do not use contraceptives. To study this issue, we collect detailed data on women’s subjective probabilistic beliefs and estimate a structural model of contraceptive choices.