Some days ago, I learned about waf, another python-based build system. Originally an early fork from scons, now it seems to be mature enough to be considered. Unlike scons is is delivered as a single ~90kb python script, which includes a self-extracting (!) python-library.
The latter contains a complete build system, which obeys the phases of a classical ./configure; make; make install :es steht noch nicht und Du has
waf configure; waf build; waf install . It also obeys environment variables like CXXFLAGS.
Indeed, this is quite useful for those developers which are familiar to autoconf-based configures. Even nicer: there is only one prerequisite, namely python. (Even a shell could be spared.) This could be a good alternative for some packages from Sage, which already need python to be present. For psico it is probably worth trying.