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Social returns from drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education: A case study of two coastal villages in Kerala


  • K. Pushpangadan

    (Centre for Development Studies)


Social returns from investing in water supply, sanitation and hygiene education (WATSANGENE) have been estimated from the UNICEF model of water supply, sanitation and hygiene after modifying it using Sen's commodities and capabilities approach. The various characteristics of the commodity, WATSANGENE, affect significantly the functioning levels of people with respect to poverty, health, longevity, education and quality of environment. Among them, education, longevity and quality of environment have not been evaluated because of the high degree of subjectivity in their measurement leading to wide margin of errors. Hence, only two of them - poverty and health- have been taken up for valuation by case study method and by "with" and "without" project approach. For the case study, two villages from the coastal belt of Kerala inhabited mainly by fishing community were selected. The study clearly shows that the social benefits are underestimated if the travel time is valued by shadow wage rate instead of by the value of energy expended. For example, the value of time saved "with the project" is only 35 of the value of energy expended for fetching drinking water from distant sources. In the case of sanitation, it is only 25 of the value of energy expended. The averted annual public expenditure per household resulting from the elimination of water borne and sanitation related illness with the project is Rs.682. The private annual expenditure per household for treating illness is Rs.510. The cost of providing water supply, sanitation and hygiene per household is Rs. 12,086. The ratio of benefit (present value of the recurring expenditure) to cost is 3.6 in the case of shadow pricing of travel time and 9 in the case of energy expenditure method. This result supports strongly that capabilities approach should be used for the valuation of benefits from water supply, sanitation and hygiene education. The study shows that provision of WATSANGENE in the coastal belt qualifies even under commercial borrowing.

Suggested Citation

  • K. Pushpangadan, 2002. "Social returns from drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education: A case study of two coastal villages in Kerala," Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum Working Papers 333, Centre for Development Studies, Trivendrum, India.
  • Handle: RePEc:ind:cdswpp:333

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    social returns; UNICEF model; capabilities and functionings; shadow pricing; valuation of energy loss;

    JEL classification:

    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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