In general, the supply chain actors present a latrine that is beyond the means of most rural target households. However, there is no “typical” or common latrine. A wide variety of options, sizes and materials were suggested by interviewees. Generally, most said it was a pour-flush squat latrine with ceramic pan and offset pit.
The cost of materials varies considerably (depending on size as well as location). Based on estimated prices and designs provided by supply chain actors, the commonly built latrine costs around 2.8 million LAK (US$3501). This is the cost for materials only (including superstructure) but excludes labor and any transport charges (though some transport cost is already embedded in materials prices). Such a latrine includes: a ceramic pan, basic slab, three 1m rings and lid, 250 concrete blocks, 1m3 sand, 1m3 gravel, 10 bags cement, 2 PVC pipes (1 large, 1 small), zinc sheeting, and wood door. The superstructure is estimated to account for 69% of the total cost of materials.
The cost of materials for a commonly built latrine, as conceived by supply chain actors
Cement and bricks contribute the most to the materials cost of such a latrine. The door, wood and concrete rings are also significant.
Cost drivers for commonly built latrine (LAK and cumulative % of total costs)
WSP (2012a) found that, of 10,360 households surveyed in Oudomxay and Savannakhet, three-quarters built latrines costing an average of 2.3 million LAK (US$287), and one-quarter spent an average of 5.5 million LAK (US$687) on “high-cost prestige latrines”. The WSP - Sanitation Consumer Behavior Study found that more than 75% of those rural households who were able to state an estimated latrine cost gauged that they need to spend over 1 million LAK (US$125). Around 29% of households without a latrine state that they are prepared to pay 200,001 to 700,000 LAK for one, while 29% are willing to pay more than 700,000 LAK.
Comparing costs with consumer expectations and willingness to pay (LAK)
Note: Excludes labor and transport costs.
SS = superstructure.
Low-cost design with SS: assumes 635,000 LAK (US$80) superstructure.
Consumer perceived cost: more than 75% of poor rural households without a latrine, who knew the amount one would cost and the days required to build, believed that it will cost at least 1 million LAK.
Consumer willingness to pay: 40% of poor households are willing to pay at least this much.
Masons report that it takes two to three workers almost two weeks to build a latrine, with a total labor cost of around 3 million LAK (US$375) — an average daily labor rate of 134,000 LAK per person (US$17). Hence using masons can double the total price of a latrine. The superstructure takes the longest, reflecting that masons are used to building substantial structures (hence the high cost of latrines above). Lining a pit with bricks (which actors report is becoming more common) requires more labor than using concrete rings, partly because such pits are usually larger, adding to the total cost of the latrine.
Transport cost in the sanitation supply chain take two forms: as explicit prices for the delivery of products, and as an embedded cost in the price of products and services. Unit transport costs between major centres are lower than local transportation costs. Transporting large loads between major centers costs around 400 LAK per ton per km where the road conditions are good and the area is not mountainous and 750 LAK per ton per km where roads are bad and the terrain is mountainous. However, distributing from major towns to smaller towns and villages, particularly those that are more remote or are in mountainous areas, significantly increases transport costs. Reaching towns with smaller trucks can cost as much as 5,500 LAK per ton per kilometer. Given that only 3 to 4 basic latrines can fit on a truck capable of reaching some remote areas, transport can add around an additional 136,000 (US$17) per latrine (34% of the cost of a basic latrine core), depending on geography and distance.