Conventional approaches to sanitation, already limited by the financial constraints of developing nations, are being increasingly challenged by the pressures of rapid population growth upon water supplies.

Robust approaches are needed to compare costs of different sanitation options operating at different scales, from highly centralised to highly decentralised. The solutions for each area will depend on the physical, social and political context surrounding the area.

There are also a lack of processes for making decisions that transcend institutional boundaries, such that a breadth of sustainability criteria can be brought to bear on a given investment decision.

Poverty Dimensions of Water and Sanitation Services and Climate Vulnerability in Can Tho City addressed these issues through a partnership between the Institute for Sustainable Futures, Can Tho Water Supply and Sewerage Company, and Can Tho University.

The project compared four sanitation options for cost-effectiveness, including through deliberative stakeholder sustainability assessment.

The analysis showed that a combined decentralised-centralised portfolio was optimal on financial and equity grounds. The analysis also highlighted the importance of introducing localised solutions for water security.

This project formed part of a broader CSIRO-AusAID Research for Development Alliance study.

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