Saving a Life-Year and Reaching MDG 4 with Investments in Water and Sanitation: A Cost-Effective Policy? European Journal of Development Research, 9 August 2012; doi: 10.1057/ejdr.2012.24
Isabel Günthera and Günther Fink
ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.
Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.
Using household survey data from 40 developing countries, we estimate the mortality impact of improved water and sanitation access. We find that the average mortality reduction achievable by investment in water and sanitation infrastructure is 8 and 22 deaths per 1000 children born for basic and advanced technologies, respectively.
These reductions account for 11 per cent (basic technologies) to 32 per cent (advanced technologies) of the gap between current child mortality rates and the 2015 target set in the Millennium Development Goal 4. Our estimates suggest that full household coverage with water and sanitation infrastructure could lead to a reduction of 0.6 to 1.7 million child deaths per year in the developing world.
The average cost per life-year saved is about 30 per cent of developing countries’ annual GDPs per capita for high-end technologies and about 80 per cent of annual per capita GDP for basic water and sanitation infrastructure.