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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Second Copenhagen Consensus: Water and Sanitation Assessment, Whittington Hanemann Sadoff Jeuland

Assessment Paper

An Assessment Paper on Water and Sanitation was prepared for the second Copenhagen Consensus by Dale Whittington, W. Michael Hanemann, Claudia Sadoff, and Marc Jeuland. The working paper used by the Expert Panel is available for download here, the finalized paper has been published in Global Crises, Global Solutions: Costs and Benefits by Cambridge University Press.

Short Summary

1.1 billion people lack good, clean water supplies, and 2.7 billion have no access to proper sanitation. Sophisticated modern piped water networks are far too expensive for most developing countries, but there are a number of low cost local interventions which are very cost effective and can increase the quality of people's lives significantly.

Consumers in most countries don’t realize that piped water and sanitation networks are expensive, because the true costs are hidden by subsidies. This paper shows that the full cost of piping water to a household is as high as $80 per month – more than most households in rich countries pay and far beyond the means of most families in developing countries. Assuming that the poor use much less water, the monthly cost of conventional network technologies drops to $20 – still a significant outlay.