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: 17 October 2019
Application deadline: 01 August 2019

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
    • Introduction to Water for Development Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Reflect critically on water related interventions, formulate own standpoint and engage constructively in debates
      2. Place the specialized knowledge on own discipline into a broader understanding of water related issues, challenges, debates and developments
      3. Recognize and distinguish different ways of knowing and framing water questions and problems in order to appraise water challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective
      4. Familiarize with the educational environment and procedures of IHE Delft and collaborate in multidisciplinary and intercultural teams
    • Introduction to Water Management and Governance Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Apply tools and concepts of Geographical Information Systems to analyze water management and governance issues
      2. Search and find, critically read, discuss and distinguish scientific papers on water management and governance
      3. Explain and critically discuss contemporary challenges, concepts and paradigms in water management and governance
      4. Apply concepts of water management and governance to analyze specific water management and governance problems
    • The Water Resources System Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Apply knowledge of basic chemistry and biological processes to analyse and explain eutrophication, stratification and the distribution of nutrients and ecological communities along water resources systems, and to relate these processes to water quality
      2. Combine understanding and knowledge of water quantity (see objective 2) and water quality (see objective 3) to analyse a range of problems and potential solutions in water resources management
      3. Describe and be able to apply the key bio-chemo-physical processes that determine water quantity and quality within a general water resources system
      4. Gain enhanced appreciation of the entire water resources system, recognising that quantity and quality issues affect each other
      5. Apply basic knowledge of the hydrological cycle, the water balance, precipitation, evapotranspiration, surface water discharge and groundwater movement to make a water balance and analyse rainfall and surface water and groundwater flows of water resources
    • Water Governance Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Identify and analyse different distributional processes and outcomes related to water governance
      2. Compare and contrast different scientific papers, case studies and theories on dynamic and political nature of water governance
      3. Distinguish and explain main discourses and theories on water governance
      4. Identify context, purpose, perspective and arguments of scientific papers on water governance
    • Water Economics Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe economic methods and techniques for estimating the value of water in different uses
      2. Describe the principles of economics and the relevance of economics to water management and governance
      3. Characterize and explain water resource issues using economic concepts and theory
      4. List and review economic instruments for water management
      5. Discuss the economic efficiency perspective for addressing water scarcity and allocation
    • Water and Environmental Law Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Summarize and integrate legal knowledge within its existing water and environmental governance background in an attempt to address key issues of water sharing under the equity articles of the UN Watercourses Convention.
      2. Review, compare and analyze contrasting legal arguments.
      3. Critically evaluate and compare treaties and (inter)national contracts, and develop skills in contract management.
      4. Critically analyze and explain different dimensions of water and environmental law (including principles, rights, instruments, organizations) from local to global administrative and functional levels.
    • Managing Water Organisations Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Design and independently implement a research protocol to effectively defend a standpoint in relation to water and sanitation services
      2. Relate academic debates concerning water supply and sanitation provisioning to the management and governance of water organizations
      3. Identify and contrast current management tools for strategic development (benchmarking, diagnosis tools or change management) taking into account the needs of the organization and its environment
      4. Explain and contextualize the position and strategy of a service provider in relation to its institutional and bio-physical environment
    • Environmental Management and Water Services Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explain the rationales behind urban water management paradigms and how they relate and are relevant to water service providers.
      2. Reflect and explain the relevance, assumptions and limitations of the environmental guidelines developed.
      3. Analyse various approaches water service providers can engage with in order to improve the environmental sustainability/resilience of their practices.
      4. Design guidelines for water service providers to incorporate and/or improve the environmental sustainability/resilience aspects of their current practices.
      5. Discuss the interaction(s) between the components of the urban water cycle and (urban) actors.
    • Finance in the Water Sector Required
    • International Fieldwork Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Collect, select, interpret and analyse the data and information ('facts') that support a particular position in a water-related controversy.
      2. Reflect on whether-how different forms of knowledge and sources of information can be combined when analyzing a contested water problem (controversy).
      3. Recognize and distinguish between different data collection methods for knowing water and understanding water problems, taking into account the (potential) uncertainty of field observations.
    • Elective module 10 WMG Elective

      Choose one of the following modules:

      • Aquatic ecosystems: processes and applications
      • Innovative water systems for agriculture
      •  Institutional analysis
      • Environmental assessment for water related policies & development
      • Partnerships for water supply and sanitation
      • Drought Management and Reservoir Operations
      • Flood Risk Management
      • Applied Groundwater Modelling
    • Elective module 11 WMG Elective

      Choose one of the following modules:

      • Strategic planning for river basins and deltas
      • Urban water governance
      • Remote Sensing for Agricultural Water Management
      • Wetlands for Livelihoods and Conservation
      • Water Sensitive Cities
      • Faecal Sludge Management
      • Decentralised Water Supply and Sanitation
      • Modelling River Systems and Lakes
      • Solid Waste Management
      • Advanced Water Transport and Distribution
      • Hydroinformatics for Decision Support
    • Summer course Required

      Choose between eight one week summer courses. Topics include water diplomacy, water science communication, leadership, entrepreneurship, and serious gaming for the water sector.

    • Research Skills and Dissemination Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Interpret results and findings from the Fieldtrip in order to arrive at meaningful yet succinct conclusions and recommendations.
      2. Formulate and defend an argument by answering the research questions using evidence and data from a variety of sources along with appropriate methodological and analysis tools.
      3. Develop expertise in presenting and defending arguments by (a) developing and presenting a research poster and short pitch; and (b) creating an extended scientific abstract of 4 pages.
      4. Define concrete research questions, aims and objectives as a framework for a small research project.
    • Thesis Research Proposal Development for WMG Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Discuss the ethical implications of the proposed research and identify adequate measures to address them (research skills).
      2. Define the intended research topic, its relevance and justification, state precise research objectives, describe the research methodology, and argue for expected results (research skills)
      3. Present and defend the research proposal (communication skills).
      4. Give and receive constructive feedback on draft research proposals (communication skills).
      5. Identify, summarize and discuss relevant literature on the research topic (research skills)
    • MSc research, thesis and defence Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Demonstrate academic attitude and learning skills (incl thinking in multidisciplinary dimensions & distinguishing main issues from minor ones), to enhance & keep up-to-date the acquired knowledge and application skills in a largely independent manner.
      2. Formulate well-founded conclusions and recommendations based on a comprehensive discussion of the results.
      3. Conduct research, independently or in a multidisciplinary team by selecting and applying appropriate research methodologies and techniques, collecting and analysing data.
      4. Communicate, debate and defend, clearly and systematically, findings and generated insights, and provide rational underpinning of these in oral and written presentations to a variety of audiences.
      5. Formulate research questions and hypotheses
      6. Explore the background of the research problem by critically reviewing scientific literature; Evaluate relevant theories and applying these theories to a relevant scientific problem; Assure adequate delineation and definition of the research topic

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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