Conventional sanitation ladders rank sanitation in increasing complexity of technological options. However, sanitation improvement is not as straightforward as the concept of “a ladder” with incremental improvements from op full flush, might suggest.
For example, from the user perspective, a VIP toilet may in some circumstances be a better option than a septic tank system. There is a wide gap between technologies and service provision, especially when O&M considerations are taken into account. A new working paper  from IRC’s WASHCost project sets out a common framework to analyse and compare sanitation cost data being collected across different country contexts (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, India) with different service delivery norms and standards. It represents a fundamental shift away from the focus on capital investment costs, to the costs of sustainable sanitation services.
 Potter, A. and Klutse, A. (2010). Assessing sanitation service levels. (WASHCost working paper ; no. 3). The Hague, The Netherlands, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. 27 p. : 15 fig., 11 ref.
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