skip to content

MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Pathways to a Business Model for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Education Services: A Case Study in Honduras.

For many centuries engineers have developed and improved techniques for moving and treating water. Despite the technical progress, 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities and 663 million people lack access to improved drinking water sources. It is clear that technical solutions alone are not sufficient. Consistently, the sustainability of WASH projects is limited by a lack of education, and no planning for financial sustainability. By developing financially sustainable WASH education services the potential for holistic project success increases.
This study verified the effectiveness of education in the WASH sector, and possible income streams for WASH education services were identified through a willingness to pay study, using a case study. The case study was the newest in-country training centre established by The Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) in Honduras. Surveys were carried out with past participants of the workshops, community members, and decision makers in organisations.

Overall, the results indicated that there is some willingness to pay, albeit a small amount, for WASH education services by all interview groups. Community members, who earn just US$1-5 per day, were willing to pay a small monthly fee, if there was a product, such as a biosand filter, included. Individuals investing in their own professional development, and organisations training their staff were willing to pay ~25% and ~50% of the training course cost, respectively. Therefore, a social business drawing income from course fees can be developed, but fees can only account for part of the cost. A hybrid and diverse business model, including features from social enterprises, product service systems, public private partnerships, and charities, has the most potential for developing a sustainable business model. Working towards financial sustainability for WASH education services can increase incentives towards providing these services with the technical solutions, leading to better health and wellbeing of poor communities.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.