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Attached is an annotated bibliography on this topic compiled
by my IRC colleague Senior Programme Officer Erick Baetings.
is an annotated bibliography on this topic compiled by my IRC colleague Senior Programme Officer
General observation Research and studies seem to be limited both in terms of
spread (number of cities) and depth (number of different types of sanitation technologies). For
example where onsite sanitation technologies are included, the costs for emptying, transport,
treatment and safe disposal or reuse may not have been considered. Furthermore full life-cycle costs
may not have been considered.
What did I find?
 Daudey, L. (2017) Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development (2017) 8 (2):
. It may not come as a surprise but the paper concludes that “conventional sewer systems are in
most cases the most expensive sanitation options, followed, in order of cost, by sanitation
systems comprising septic tanks, ventilated improved pit latrines, urine diversion dry toilets and
pour-flush pit latrines. The cost of simplified sewer systems is found to be lower than both
conventional sewer systems and septic tank-based systems”.
See fig.4 on the Annual lifecycle costs per capita of centralised (conventional) and simplified
sewerage, and septic tank based FSM systems (full sanitation chain).
 WSUP (2018) Comparing the costs of different urban sanitation solutions in developing cities
in Africa and Asia. https://www.wsup.com/insights/comparing-the-costs-of-different-urban-sanitation-solutions-in-developing-cities-in-africa-and-asia/
This is two-page policy brief that was developed on the basis of the desk study carried out by
Loic Daudey (see above).
 Hophmayer-Tokich, S. (2006) Wastewater Management Strategy: centralized v. decentralized
technologies for small communities. https://research.utwente.nl/en/publications/wastewater-management-strategy-centralized-v-decentralized-techno
This paper concludes “Whereas the conventional centralized strategy, developed in the middle of
the nineteen century and spread out ever since, proved to be very efficient in pollution control
and became the preferred strategy on planners and decision makers, it is growingly recognized that
this strategy cannot be feasible in many cases. This is mainly due to high costs of transportation
systems, especially in low population density areas and in very poor communities. Low capacities
of these communities to implement and manage these facilities, is another constraint. As a result,
the previously discarded strategy of on-site treatment is growingly becoming popular and
accepted.”Although the paper does not provide any cost comparisons, it does compare
centralized and decentralized technology solutions. The paper highlights two main constrains for
the provision of adequate wastewater treatment: high costs and institutional low performance.
What is interesting in the paper is that it comes up with a list of factors that should be
considered when selecting the right solution: 1) water consumption rates; 2) wastewater production
volumes; 3) population density; 4) local groundwater contamination risks; 5) soil permeability; 6)
existing infrastructure; 7) cost of systems and affordability of the target community. Other more
qualitative factors, such as social considerations and institutional capacity, should also be
 Cairns-Smith, S., Hill, H. and Nazarenko, E. (2014) Urban Sanitation: Why a portfolio of
solutions is needed; Working paper. https://www.bcg.com/Images/December_2014_Sanitation_WORKING_PAPER_FINAL_tcm36-79574.pdf
This working paper was developed with financial support from the BMGF and the Boston Consulting
Group. The analysis in the paper focuses on three sanitation options that according to the authors
are best suited for large-scale urban implementation: 1) centralized sewers; 2) decentralized
simplified sewers; and 3) septic tank-based onsite sanitation. Fig. 2 provides a comparison of
capital and operating costs of centralised and decentralised sewer-based systems, and on-site
septic tank based systems. The paper also list the characteristics (factors) that influence
sanitation solution selection in four groups: population characteristics, physical
characteristics, political/economic characteristics, and urban planning considerations.
 Cairns-Smith, S., Hill, H. and Nazarenko, E. (2014) Sanitation Solutions for Urban Growth. https://www.bcg.com/en-nl/publications/2014/development-health-sanitation-solutions-urban-growth.aspx
Interesting article by the same authors that wrote the previous working paper as it provides a
quick insight in urban sanitation challenges; however without solid cos comparisons. It provides
some figures without clear references: 1) Large sewer networks: $220 to $940 per capita (capital
expenditure costs?) 2) Decentralized sewer-based systems: $105 to $155 to build and another $4 to
$10 to operate per year 3) Onsite septic tank system: $70 to $360 to build and annual operating
costs, which largely involve emptying the content of the tank, range from $4 to $12 per capita