Water Services Management

You will focus on the provision of water and sanitation services and the management of related infrastructure, and develop and critically review institutional and financial instruments and business models for different socio-economic contexts.

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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?

This thematic profile is designed for professionals active in the water services sector. Students from line ministries, water supply and waste water companies, municipal assemblies, but also from an NGO or CBO background will benefit from the well-balanced programme.


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 service delivery modalities.
  • Describe and explain the main concepts and instruments for analysing and influencing formal and informal arrangements concerning water supply and sanitation services, including policies, laws and institutions, and by adopting a historical perspective.
  • Explain the key concepts for integrated, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary analyses of water services management and describe challenges of providing water supply and sanitation services at different levels (from global to local).
  • Summarize the current debates relevant for water supply and sanitation services, using institutional and management theories from different academic disciplines (e.g. economics, public administration, sociology, political science, law).

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.
    • Managing Water Organizations Required

      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:

      1. Explain the position and strategy of a water organisation in relation to its institutional environment.
      2. Summarize the scope , scale, structure and key work processes of organisations
      3. Analyze the management and decision-making processes in water organisations, including the management of change.
      4. Plan the use of performance analysis and benchmarking in the regulation and management of water organisations.
      5. Assess the processes of human resources, health and safety, management for integrity and sustainability, asset management and customer management.
    • Environmental Governance and Water Services Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Discuss the components that make up the urban water cycle and urban water systems
      2. Explain and employ the basic ecological and social science perspectives of integrated urban water management
      3. Discuss the potential impacts of climate change and anthropogenic impacts on the urban water cycle
      4. Discuss the interactions between the urban water cycle and the broader hydrological cycle
      5. Analyze the complexities and conflicts involved in integrated management of urban water systems
    • Financial Management in the Water Sector Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Recognize the need for commercial accounting and identify the components of standard financial statements in water organisations.
      2. Analyze the financial position of a water organisation through an analysis of financial statements.
      3. Compute a Social Cost-Benefit Analysis for water and sanitation related projects.
      4. Apply simple financial and economic modelling to optimize production and improve financial performance.
      5. Employ demand assessments and discuss the fundamentals of water pricing.
      6. Recognize and implement basic customer protection and marketing techniques in water organisations.
    • 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
    • Partnerships for Water Supply and Sanitation Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Recognize different PPP options and principles governing PPPs.
      2. Estimate the suitability of PPP options, based on lessons learned from past PPP contracts.
      3. Determine whether the prerequisite enabling environment of a chosen PPP option is present.
      4. Evaluate the pitfalls in a PPP implementation process, including the procurement cycle.
    • 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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