Water Conflict Management

You will study the management of water resources conflicts, focusing on negotiation, mediation and decision-making processes, in order to prevent, manage and resolve water conflicts. 

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    What is Delft based

    This programme will run entirely at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, the Netherlands

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Delft based, IHE Delft, The Netherlands18 months, starts in October

For whom?

The programme is designed for water managers as well as for institutional, legal and international relations experts interested in local, national and international water management.


The degree students receive from IHE Delft is the MSc degree in Water Management and Governance


Start: 18 October 2018
Application deadline: 01 August 2018

Learning objectives

After completing the Water Management and Governance MSc programme and this thematic profile, you will be able to:

  • Describe for a given water resources system the interplay between the main biophysical processes and social dynamics, in analyzing, anticipating, preventing and managing conflicts;
  • Describe and explain the main concepts and instruments for analyzing and influencing formal and informal arrangements over water for collaboration, including policies, laws and institutions, and by adopting a historical perspective;
  • Explain the key concepts for integrated, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary analyses of water systems and describe the challenges of such approaches at sector, intersectoral and trans-boundary levels;
  • Name and critically discuss theories, concepts and tools of conflict management and cooperation building techniques in the context of natural resources and water in particular.

Structure & contents

The taught part of the Water Management and Governance MSc programme consists of 14 modules, of which 7 are specific for this thematic study profile. The taught part covers a total of 12 months and is followed by a 6-month research and thesis phase. Graduates of the programme will be awarded 106 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits.

  • October - April

    IHE, Delft, the Netherlands
    • Week 1 + Principles of Integrated Water Resources Management Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Summarize the latest insights, context and concepts in integrated water management that are under debate in international and regional forums.
      2. Explain the main arguments for an integrated approach in the field of water management.
      3. Describe the major natural functions and human uses of river systems.
      4. Summarize the basics of GIS and Remote Sensing, and apply the techniques for typical applications in water management.
      5. Explain what science is and what scientific research entails including distinguishing the main methodological approaches.
    • The Water Resources System Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe how the physical water resources system works, and illustrate the interaction between quantity and quality (chemical, biological, ecological), between surface water, soil water and groundwater, between stocks and fluxes. Explain major natural functions and human use of water resources systems focusing on river systems including groundwater, wetlands, lakes/reservoirs and estuaries.
      2. Identify basic components to characterise the quantitative and qualitative nature of a water resources system and able to analyse the hydrology of a water resources systems.
      3. Discuss the main issues of debate in an integrated water resources system underpinned by description of the biophysical, chemical and hydrological processes and their interactions, natural functions and human use of a water resources system.
    • Water Governance Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Identify and analyse actors and decision making processes related to water governance
      2. Distinguish and explain main discourses and theories on water governance
      3. Identify context, purpose, perspective and arguments of scientific papers on water governance
      4. Compare and contrast different scientific papers, case studies and theories on dynamic and political nature of water governance
    • Water Economics Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the principles of economics and the relevance of economics to water management
      2. Explain the cause of water resource issues using economic theory and concepts
      3. Identify economic instruments for water resource management
      4. Describe economic approaches to estimating the value of water in different use
      5. Apply economic theory and method to analyze issues of water resource management
    • Water and Environmental Law Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. demonstrate and apply knowledge in the fields of national and international water and environmental law and to perceive and discuss the main concepts, theories, discourses
      2. apply, compose and recreate legal instruments to operationalize integrated water resources management (water quantity and water quality)
      3. demonstrate and apply knowledge in the field of contract management for use in water projects.
      4. analyze and prepare a contract for a specific situation
      5. describe and apply concepts of water allocation, water rights and international benefit sharing
      6. discuss and explain complexity of decision making for water allocation in national and international rivers.
    • Mediation for Water Conflict Management Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explain, discuss and analyze the basic concepts of conflict management and conflicts related to water.
      2. Discuss and analyze, from a conflict and cooperation perspective, cases of water sharing and use among different actors at different levels and from different sectors.
      3. Discuss, analyze and understand the impact of human activities on water systems and the repercussion on water conflict and cooperation.
      4. Identify, explain and analyze the elements of a negotiation process applied to the management of a water conflict.
      5. Prepare, organize, engage in negotiation processes related to shared water resources with different stakeholders.
      6. Apply a set of skills and tools required for water conflict management through a negotiation process.
    • Institutional Analysis Elective
      Learning Objectives
      1. Analyze the role of institutions in water management.
      2. Summarize different approaches to institutional analysis linked to different schools of thought.
      3. Apply these approaches for analyzing cases of water management.
    • Advanced Mediation for Water Conflict Management Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Critically analyze cases of water sharing and use among different actors at different levels and from different sectors, from a conflict and cooperation perspective.
      2. Identify pertinent cooperative frameworks that apply to specific conflict situations and assess their efficiency.
      3. Apply management skills in conflict transformation, strategic planning, and water governance.
      4. Explain and discuss the advantages of mediation processes, and prepare, organize and engage in them as a party and as a mediator for the resolution of shared water disputes.
      5. Explain, discuss and assess other consultation and cooperative processes (e.g. consensus building, public participation), and be able to prepare, organize and engage in them.
    • Water Resources Planning Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explain basic concepts and notions in water resources planning.
      2. Describe major steps in the participatory and integrated water resources planning process.
      3. Identify and apply tools and models, such as stakeholder integration, environmental impact assessment (EIA), decision support systems, role plays and water system models, while engaging in water resources planning activities.
      4. Develop alternative water management strategies and compare and evaluate them by applying multi-criteria analysis.
      5. Discuss water resources planning and implementation in basins for specific context with special attention to basins in a developing country context.
    • International Fieldwork Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Compare the different water management perspectives and uses in practice in Spain and Portugal. Issues that will be elaborated upon during the fieldwork include Multiple uses for and multiple sources of water; Up and downstream water issues; Institutional framework and implementation of the EU WFD; Public and private water supply; Conventional and alternative waste water treatment and reuse; Large Dams and transboundary river basin issues; Ancient vs modern irrigation and water supply systems; Non conventional water resources: desalination and wastewater reuse; Formal and informal decision making processes.
      2. Formulate a problem statement
      3. Collect and analyse data from field measurements and interviews
      4. Develop a problem analysis
    • Urban Water Governance Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Articulate the relevance of current urban development debates for the provision of water supply/sanitation services.
      2. Identify relationships between urban governance and urban water supply/sanitation infrastructure (be able to describe how they influence and inform each other) in presented case studies.
      3. Apply the concept of the hydro-social cycle to analyze the intersection of social issues/processes with technical issues in urban water supply and sanitation service delivery.
    • Summer Course and Research and Academic Skills Development for WM Elective
    • IWRM Groupwork Elective
    • MSc Preparatory Course and Thesis Research Proposal for WM Required

Application & Admission

Apply to the Water Management and Governance MSc Programme and enroll in this thematic profile during the course of the programme.


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