Professor Barbara Evans

Professor Barbara Evans


Professor Barbara Evans holds the chair in Public Health Engineering in the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds.  Her research activities centre on sanitation, hygiene and water services in the global south.  Professor Evans’ research includes sanitation in low income urban communities, rural sanitation and water/sanitation in cities and towns. Within these areas, particular emphasis is placed on the development of effective strategies for management and disposal of faecal sludge, alternatives to conventional water borne sewerage in dense urban areas, effectiveness of rural sanitation programmes, sustainability and equity in community-wide approaches which eliminate open defecation, health impacts of open defecation practices, technologies and institutions to link community sanitation and water investments with city networks.

After graduating from Leeds with a BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering (1987) Professor Evans worked in for Sir M MacDonald and partners for seven years, primarily in Sudan, Pakistan and India and gained experience in rural drainage, irrigation, flood management and sanitation and qualified as a chartered engineer (CEng). In 1994 she won a scholarship to study for an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Ecnomics, passing with distinction in 1995.  Her studies focused on the political economy of urban sanitation for poor and marginalised communities.  Thereafter she worked at the World Bank Water and Sanitation Programme for seven years and was responsible for a regional programme of support to government and civil society in South Asia, delivering capacity building, research and programme support in urban basic services.  She also worked on several groundbreaking rural water supply and sanitation projects, in particular in the Hamalayan regions of Uttar Pradesh (now Uttaranchal).  Other work in this period included leading the development of the post-conflict reconstruction programme for urban sanitation and water supplies in Afghanistan.

After leaving the Bank in 2002 Barbara worked as an independent consultant, working with UNICEF, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, WaterAid, and for the governments of Vietnam, Bolivia and Bangladesh. She was also active and instrumental in delivery of several regional ministerial sanitation conferences.

Since joining the University in 2009 Barbara has led the establishment of the cross-faculty masters programme in Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering which is jointly taught with the Nuffield School of International Health.  Barbara has also been instrumental in building up the focus on WASH services delivery in developing countries with the water@leeds  and Centre for Global Development research portfolio.  Barbara is currently leading research on the global assessment of fecal sludge management options in cities of the global south (with Andy Peal and WSP); the impact of climate change in Africa on the planning and delivery of urban services; the enabling environment for container-based sanitation; the cost and climate impacts of urban sanitatoin technologies (CACTUS); the market for reuse of fecal sludge in rural Bangladesh, including large scale composting trials (with BRAC, IWMI, BUET and NGO-Forum); t the impact of formalising slum water supplies in urban Africa (with WSUP and the School of Earth and Environment); and value for money and sustainability assessments in six countries of Africa and South Asia (with OPM, LSHTM and Oxfam on behalf of DFID). 

Barbara has travelled widely, lived for many years in South Asia, and has worked in over twenty countries.  She is active in the global international development arena and is a member of the Strategic Advisory Group of the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) which reports progress against the Sustainable Development Goals for Water.


  • Co-director, Centre for Global Development (University of Leeds)
  • Member water@leeds
  • Programme Leader, MSc Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering

Research interests

Urban Sanitation - effective strategies for management and disposal of feacal sludge, including design and lifecycle costing of santiation options for on-site and sewered management of sludge in dense and informal urban settlements and the link between local service provision and overall city planning, health risks in urban environments and the valorisation of urban fecal wastes.

Rural sanitation - effectiveness of rural sanitation programmes, sustainability and equity in community-wide approaches which eliminate open defecation, health impacts of open defecation practices, market assessment of fecal sludge collection, treatment and reuse options, composting and other technical elements of the sanitation value chain.

Water and sanitation in cities and towns -  technologies and institutions to link community sanitation and water investments with city networks, lifecycle planning, costing and management of city-wide sanitation services and the links between effective sanitation and water planning and the growth of sustainable effective cities in Africa and Asia.


  • BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering, University of Leeds
  • MSC (Distn) Development Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Professional memberships


Student education

I teach at both undergraduate and post graduate level - and am responsible for the trans-disciplinary masters programme in Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering.  I also have undergraduate personal tutees and a signfiicant PhD supervisory role.

Research groups and institutes

  • Water, Public Health and Environmental Engineering
  • Cities and Infrastructure

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//">Delivering safely managed water supply and sanitation during rural-urban transition </a></li>
    <li><a href="//">EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water and Waste Infrastructure Systems Engineered for Resilience (Water-WISER)</a></li>