Costing Sustainable Services October 2018 Online Course

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2594 AV


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The Costing Sustainable Services October online course is now open for registration. The course will start on Monday, 1st October 2018.

The course consists of three modules:

  • Module 1 What is a life-cycle cost approach?; introduces the main concepts of life-cycle costing, its underlying principles and key components.
  • Module 2 Using a life-cycle cost approach; gives ideas and tools on how life-cycle costing can be integrated in your own work and organisation.
  • Module 3 Analysing a life-cycle cost approach; explains how to analyse life-cycle costs and service levels of water and sanitation.

Main course information and requirements:

  • The course is free.
  • The course is in English.
  • An internet connection is required.
  • You will receive online support throughout the course.
  • You will receive a IRC Certificate upon successful completion of the course.

How you follow the course:

On Sunday 30th September 2018 you will receive an email with your login details and a password to access the course material.

You can start the course at your own pace from the 1st October 2018 by logging in and following the module of your choice. We suggest that you follow the 1, 2, 3 order of the modules described above, but you can select any module to start or switch between modules. The course material guides you through the modules and exercises and you complete this at your own pace.

The course runs for 3 months but you can access the course platform for one year. After one year you will loose your access to the course platform. However, if you do not log in for 1 month, we will contact you to find out whether you want to continue following the course.

You will work mainly on your own, but support is available through a question and answer forum, where you can leave your own questions and start discussions with the other participants. This means you can interact with each other on the forum.

If you have specific questions about the course you can contact IRC staff at and you will receive an answer as soon as possible.

Frequently asked questions:

Q: Is this online course for me?

A: The Costing Sustainable Services online course has been developed by IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre to assist WASH sector professionals (governments, NGOs, donors and individuals, etc) to use a life-cycle cost approach to plan and budget for sustainable and equitable WASH services. The course will help you answer the following questions:

Q: What are the main topics discussed in each module?


Module 1 discusses:

  • How cost information contributes to sustainable WASH services.
  • The life-cycle cost approach and its benefits. What are the life-cycle cost components needed to plan and budget for sustainable WASH service delivery?
  • What constitutes a sustainable WASH service and which criteria can be used to cost and monitor services? How to identify strengths and weaknesses of the WASH service delivered?
  • Creation of water, sanitation and/or hygiene ladders with customised service levels. What are the benefits of a service delivery approach?

Module 2 examines:

  • Developing a plan to introduce and integrate life-cycle costing into your work or organisation to improve sustainability of WASH services.
  • How to prepare for the collection of life-cycle costs and service level data, select life-cycle cost approach indicators useful to your programme, create your own life-cycle cost approach questionnaires and develop a life-cycle cost approach data collection plan.
  • How to get more out of the life-cycle cost approach; increasing the level of detail for more complex analysis; using a life-cycle cost approach for poverty and affordability analysis; using GIS in a life-cycle cost approach.

Module 3 enables analysis of life cycle costs and service levels of water and sanitation, specifically:

  • What are my life-cycle costs? Determining how life-cycle costs impact overall expenditure in the next 20 years. Which life-cycle cost components are most significant - capital expenditure or operational expenditure? What is the impact of rehabilitation and renewal of WASH infrastructure or of the loan that was taken out?
  • Forecasting of expenditures: who pays for what? For the next 20 years after an intervention who will pay for what life-cycle cost components? What is the potential impact of inflation or population growth?
  • Identification of sustainability risks with expenditures. Modelling shortfall in expenditures based on breakdown rates and renewal costs and some typical operational costs. Comparing whether the expenditures expected are going to be enough to ensure the sustainability of the service delivery model.
  • Comparing WASH service levels received by users across projects, districts, regions or countries. Identifying gaps between ‘designed for’ and ‘received’ services. Comparing how services differ across population groups.

Q: What is the structure of each module?

A: Each module consists of a series of sessions, each explaining key components of the life-cycle cost approach methodology. There are separate materials for water and sanitation.

Each session combines exercises with reading materials. Some sessions also include optional videos and online webinars. Depending on individual knowledge and interest, participants can choose which sessions, exercises or reading materials are useful.

Q: How long does it take to complete one module of the Costing Sustainable Services online course?

A: Each module takes between 8 – 16 hours to complete depending on whether all sessions and exercises are followed for both water and sanitation components. Participants have 3 months to complete the modules and receive a certificate for each of the modules. Participants can access the course platform for one year. After one year the participant will loose access to the course platform. However, if a participant does not log in for 1 month, we will contact the participant to find out whether continuation of the course is desired.

Q: Do I get to interact with IRC staff? How is the course facilitated?

A: For specific questions about the course, participants can contact IRC staff at and will receive an answer as soon as possible. Interaction with other participants is possible through the question and answer forum, by leaving and replying to comments and in various exercises included in the course.

Q: Where can I get help?

A: Glossary costing sustainable services: The main terms used throughout the online course are explained in a glossary. Participants can also comment on the different terms, add their own descriptions or upload pictures. All terms included in the glossary are automatically linked to the glossary when used anywhere in the text of the online course. If participants click on any of the terms included in the glossary somewhere in the text, they will be automatically taken to the glossary.

Question and answer forum: Anything unclear? Any questions? In this forum participants can ask questions to the other participants and have a look at questions posted by other participants. If a participant knows the answer to one of the questions asked, they are welcome to answer it.

Comments: Participants can interact with other participants by leaving or responding to comments.

Q: How do I receive a certificate?

A: An IRC certificate is available per module. Certificates can be downloaded by the participant after successful completion of the test and the filling in of an evaluation form at the end of each module. For successful completion of the test participants need to answer at least 8 out of the 10 questions correctly. Tests can be repeated as often as needed. IRC does not save copies of certificates, so participants need to make sure to download their own certificates and keep it safe.

Please contact for further information.

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