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How do I determine capital expenditure of a water or sanitation service?

I would like to answer the question in the WASHCost calculator; How much has been/will be spent setting up the water service including construction (per person)?

1 Answer


You divide the total expenditure on capital, both hardware and software, by the total number of users of the water or sanitation system. The equations are:

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If you do not have the actual number of users, you can also use the population for which the water (or sanitation) system was designed.

Hardware costs on capital include constructing or purchasing fixed assets such as concrete structures, pumps and pipes. Capital Expenditure (software) are the costs of one-off work with stakeholders prior to construction or implementation, extension, enhancement and augmentation (including costs of one-off capacity building activities).

I hope this answers your question. Alternatively, you can also follow module 3 of the free Costing Sustainable Services online course where this is explained in detail with step-by step- guides, exercises and tools to help you. To register for the Costing Sustainable Services online course, go to


The total cost to set up a service also includes capital expenditure on software e.g. start up trainings, communications, etc.

Nicolas Dickinson gravatar imageNicolas Dickinson ( 2014-03-28 17:50:13 )