Dr Paul Hutchings

Dr Paul Hutchings


I am a researcher and educator focused on water, sanitation and environmental health. My background is interdisciplinary with my first degrees in Geography and Development Studies from the University of Liverpool. I completed my PhD at Cranfield University working as a research assistant on the Australian Aid (DFAT) funded Community Water Plus project that investigated determinants of success within community-managed rural water supply projects across India.

I took up an academic position at Cranfield University in 2016 to research and teach on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) issues. With the support of ESRC-DFID funding I led research to design the Water-related Emotional Distress (WRED) methodology to track water security among pastoralists groups in Ethiopia.

Another major ESRC funded project focused on understanding how sanitation behaviours, institutions and infrastructure shift during rural-to-urban transition in India. I joined the University of Leeds in 2020 and continue to work on a portfolio of projects linked to water, sanitation, infrastructure and health. 


  • Programme Leader for the Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering MSc
  • WaterWISER CDT Management Board

Research interests

My research interests can be organised across two overlapping areas.

The first area of research is focused on institutional and policy-level processes within the water, sanitation and related sectors. This builds on my PhD work on the community management and coproduction of public services (mainly WASH related) and more recent work on service delivery systems during periods of rural-urban transition and WASH systems change. Within this work, I firmly believe there is a close evolution between environmental conditions, infrastructure and technology, on the one hand, and the institutions that govern the management and use of such physical systems. This means I advocate interdisciplinary scholarship, whereby understanding environmnetal processes and the science and engineering of key technologies, is a critical foundation to meaningful institutional analysis within the WASH space.  

The second area is applied research and evaluation of water, sanitation and environmental health interventions and programmes. This includes studies on the effect of WASH conditions on populations. For example, work to measure the relationship between WASH and wellbeing, as well as my contribution to ‘intervention studies’ evaluating the impact of WASH conditions on health and environmnetal outcomes. This area of research includes studying the mechanics of intervention or service delivery processes, often with a focus of understanding and measuring complex processes of change which occur in real-life settings. 

I have been Principal or Co-Investigator on various grants and value projects that include significant engagement with governments, INGOs and others working in the professional sector. A list of key grants is here:

  • Co-Investigator*: Extreme weather and healthcare system resilience in LMICs. 2024-2028. Client: National Institute of Health Research. *(Institutional PI)
  • Co-Investigator*: WASH Systems for Health. 2023-2028. Client: Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. *(Institutional PI)
  • Principal Investigator: Co-developing gamification methods for infection prevention training tools in low resource healthcare settings. 2022. Client: University of Leeds Crucible Funding (Internal Competition). 
  • Principal Investigator: Emergency WASH Gap Analysis – Grey Literature Review. 2021. Client: Oxfam GB. 
  • Co-Investigator: Climate change, displacement, and emotional distress. 2020-21. Client: ESRC (ES/T015977/1). 
  • Co-Investigator: Scaling up the Container-based Sanitation. GCRF Off-grid Cities (managed by EPSRC). 2020-2023. 
  • Principal Investigator: Rurality as a Vehicle for Urban Sanitation Transformation. ICSSR-ESRC Call for Collaborative Research on Urban Transformations in India (/ES/R006865/1). 2018-2020. 
  • Co-Investigator: Sanitation and the Circular Economy UK-Brazil-South Africa Strategic Partnership Grant. UUKi Rutherford Strategic Partnership Scheme. (RF- 2018-66). 2018-2019. 
  • Principal Investigator: Water-security in Ethiopia and the Emotional response of Pastoralists (WEEP). ESRC-DFID (ES/R001049/1). 2017-2019.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • International Water Association

Research groups and institutes

  • Water, Public Health and Environmental Engineering

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="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>