This blog has originally been posted on The tools mentioned in the blog are accessible from the original post. 

Using real data, we look at how the WASHCost calculator can be used in practice in India.

This is a depiction of how someone can use the advanced tool of the WASHCost Calculator. The example input data come from the real dataset collected by the WASHCost project in India (see link below).


Ravi Kumar, Junior Engineer working at the Block level is concerned about maintaining the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status awarded to Venkatapuram. He wants to know if households and government are spending enough on sanitation services to maintain this status and to have a sanitation service report on finance that he can share with stakeholders.

Adding data to the Venkatapuram report

Ravi starts by providing some contextual information about the village, its location, the population density and who is responsible for the various aspects of sanitation services. Households take care of most aspects of their facilities and the maintenance of the sanitation service. Adding this information to the WASHCost Calculator report page will help Ravi communicate the financial sustainability of sanitation services. The data also includes some information about household income and size.

What is the average annual household income in the service area? ₹ 60,256
Average household size 4

Several technologies can be defined in a service area in the tool. Venkatapuram has only one type of latrine. The junior engineer uses the technology screen to start to define the technologies used. First, by selecting the Pour Flush Latrine.

WASHCOST Calculations

Some additional details can be filled in to differentiate between pour flush latrines. In this example, the latrines share the same characteristics. For example, there were no double pit latrines.

Type of slab Cement
Ventilation pipe Yes
Pit lining Concrete rings
Water seal Yes
Number of pits 1
Superstructure Corrugated metal sheet
Septic tank No
Connected to sewerage system No
Urine diversion system No
Sludge treatment No

Life-cycle costs

Initial costs (capital expenditure on hardware and software)

The junior engineer knows that in total, ₹ 3,015,342 was spent on constructing latrines in Venkatapuram. Unfortunately, he does not know what was spent on software costs.

Split up over the different components of the latrine, the investment was:

Component Currency (year) Expenditure Estimated lifespan
Pit ₹ (2011) ₹ 502,557 6
Superstructure ₹ (2011) ₹ 1,340,152 15
Lining ₹ (2011) ₹ 1,172,633 15
Treatment and disposal ₹ (2011) Don’t know
Other: ₹ (2011)
Software costs ₹ (2011) Don’t know
Subtotal ₹ (2011) ₹ 3,015,342

Ravi made educated guesses about the lifespans of each component.

Recurrent costs

From WASHCost, Ravi knows what the households are spending each year on operation and minor maintenance of their facilities, e.g. cleaning and materials. However, he does not how much households have spent to empty the pits, how often that happens and is not aware of any loans that have been taken out to construct the facilities.

What has been/will be the minor operation and maintenance expenditure per year for all facilities combined? ₹ (2011) ₹ 85,748 per year
What has been spent/will be spent on capital maintenance expenditure per year for all facilities combined? ₹ (2011) Don’t know
What is the cost of servicing any loans taken to fund the service per year for all facilities combined? ₹ (2011) Don’t know
What is the payback period on this loan? ₹ (2011) NA
Total recurrent costs – Pour flush latrine ₹ (2011) ₹ 85,748 per year

In addition, there are some costs that are not related to households. There are costs for local governments to provide support to households and manage the subsidies (direct support) and there are costs related to the overall government administration and policy-making that are required for the support of sanitation services (indirect support). These support costs were investigated by WASHCost in Andhra Pradesh and were found to be:

What has been spent/will be spent on expenditure on direct support? ₹ (2011) ₹ 13.72
per person per year
What has been/will be the expenditure on indirect support? ₹ (2011) ₹ 2.29
per person per year

Service levels

In the tool, Ravi can divide them up the households by the level of service that they are receiving. The WASHCost Calculator allows different types of households services by their accessibility, use, reliability (maintenance), and environmental protection. Ravi has data for all of these except environmental protection.

21% of households have achieved the best service in the village since everyone in the household uses the latrine, although the latrine is inconsistently cleaned. So the junior engineer defines the service like this:

Accessibility Are latrines provided at the household level? Yes
Accessibility Does the latrine have an impermeable slab? Yes
Accessibility Does the service accessibility meet the national norms? Yes
Use Which family members use the latrine? All
Use Does the service use meet the national norms? Yes
Reliability Is the latrine clean and emptied? Not consistently
Reliability Does the service reliability meet the national norms? Yes
Environmental Protection What is the environmental impact of sludge disposal? No data
Environmental Protection Does the service environmental protection
meet the national norms?
No data

71% have achieved a good level of service but the difference is not everyone in the household uses the latrine and 8% of households have no household level toilet so cannot be considered to have access to a sanitation service. Ravi inputs each of these into the WASHCost Calculator service level screen.

The next step

At this point, Junior Engineer Ravi Kumar can generate a report including a financial analysis of Venkatapuram based on the data he entered in the calculator.

Venkatapuram toilet use availability

Ravi is concerned about maintaining the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status awarded to Venkatapuram and wants to know if households and government are spending enough on sanitation services.

Report summary: expenditure and services

Upon finishing the inputs, Ravi generates a nicely formatted report that can be shared with stakeholders.

The report provides a quick overview that Ravi can discuss with stakeholders first. He can bring up issues like missing data and try to fill in the gaps. In addition, over the long term, affordability may be an issue (more on this later). Finally, the junior engineer also has the chance to say what exactly the town has achieved in terms of service levels and at what cost.

Based on the inputs provided  (see the previous blog post above), these are the results:


  • Total expenditure over 30 years is ₹ 6,269,328 according to inputs on capital expenditure and recurrent expenditure.
  • However, there is a potential recurrent expenditure shortfall of ₹   308 per person per year or approximately ₹ 0.84 per person per day (about US$ .02 / person /day) based on your capital expenditure and a comparison with the WASHCost benchmarks on minor operation and maintenance, capital maintenance and direct support. There may be some risk to affordability, especially for poorer households.
  • In addition, some households do not have facilities and this will incur capital expenditure on new facilities to provide households sanitation services.
  • Missing data on software costs and capital maintenance expenditure may be affecting the results.
  • 14% of areas outside of Venkatapuram inputted in the tool spend less on investment (capital expenditure on hardware and software) according to other data in the tool.
  • 33% of areas outside of Venkatapuram inputted in the tool spend less on recurrent expenditure according to other data in the WASHCost Calculator.

Service level

  • 92% of the population receives a basic sanitation service that meets national norms.
  • Only 5% of other service areas have a more people with access to a basic service according to data in the WASHCost Calculator.
  • However, 8% of the population have no household level sanitation service.
Service level Percentage served
Meets national norms 92%
Does not meet national norms 8%
WASHCost service level Percentage served
Improved service 0%
Basic service 92%
Limited service 0%
No service 8%

The potential expenditure shortfall may put these services at risk.

Report: financial analysis of cost/expenditure

In this section, Ravi gets an overview of the financial analysis. Based on inputs, the cost of establishing facilities and services is ₹ 3,015,342. The cost of maintaining those services over 30 years is ₹ 3,253,986 according to the inputted expenditure. However, estimated costs indicate that this too low.

Estimated costs over 30 years

The graph below shows costs estimated over 30 years. The minor operation and minor maintenance expenditure and expenditure on direct support are taken from the WASHCost benchmarks. The capital maintenance expenditure is based on the inputted capital expenditure and the lifespans of your facilities. When the life of a component comes to an end, it must be replaced and incurs a cost.

Venkatapuram recurrent costs sanitation


Per person per year Operational exenditure Capital Maintenance
Expenditure on
Direct Support
Inputted expenditure ₹ 60.43 ₹ 0 ₹ 13.72 ₹ 74.15
Estimated expenditure ₹ 114.00 ₹ 177.08 ₹ 91.00 ₹ 382.08
Expenditure surplus/shortfall ₹ -53.57 ₹ -177.08 ₹ -77.28 ₹ -307.93


There is an estimated potential shortfall of ₹ 307.93 per person per year based on a comparison with the WASHCost benchmarks and your capital expenditure. Missing data on software costs and capital expenditure may be affecting the results.

Financial analysis: affordability

Based on the inputted values, the current level of expenditure appears to be affordable to households. However, based on the estimated level of expenditure over 30 years, there is some risk to affordability.

The total costs to finance operational expenditure, capital maintenance expenditure and the costs of capital equates to 0.4% of household income according to inputs. This is considered to be affordable.

It could be that the poorest households will still spend more than 2% of their income, which would be considered unaffordable. The official could try changing the income value to test the affordability for poorer households instead.

Annual OpEx Annual CapManEx Total Result
Cost per household (inputted) ₹ 241.71 ₹ 0 ₹ 241.71
Percentage of HH income (inputted) 0.4% 0.0% 0.4% Affordable based on inputs
Cost per household (estimated) ₹ 456.00 ₹ 708.33 ₹ 1164.33
Percentage of HH income (estimated) 0.8% 1.2% 1.49% Some risk to affordability estimated

This check assumes the households will be paying directly or through tariffs for the operation, capital maintenance, and costs of capital of the facilities.

Report: service level details

The table below summarises the service level by indicator.

Indicator Service level Percentage
Accessibility Improved 92%
Basic 0%
Limited 0%
No latrine 8%
Use Improved 21%
Basic 71%
Limited 0%
No latrine 8%
Reliability Improved 0%
Basic 92%
Limited 0%
No latrine 8%
Improved No data provided
Basic No data provided
Limited No data provided
No latrine No data provided

Using the results

The Junior Engineer  Ravi Kumar can now:

  • Share the report with colleagues to talk about the potential expenditure shortfall and whether there may be additional data on software expenditure and the capital maintenance
  • Go to the Panchayat and Venkatapuram to discuss strategies, both financial and otherwise, to address the slippage in service levels and potential financial issues.
  • Use the tool to track progress over time and compare the results to other habitations in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Connect the tool to a government database to improve the access to results.
  • Encourage others to fill in reports on other habitations so that the comparisons become more relevant and there is more data available on sustainable sanitation services and how much they cost.
  • Improve the reliability of the data by adding and changing values as better information is available and track the changes.
  • Fill in different income figures to get a sense of risk to affordability. A significant number of households will earn as little as 5 times less than the average. This means there are some households for which sustainable sanitation is very expensive.

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