Delft, the Netherlands, 02 May 2022

Obituary: Nemanja Trifunović

Dr. Nemanja Trifunović, IHE Delft Associate Professor of Water Supply Engineering, unexpectedly passed away on 26 March 2022, cutting short a career that included 31 years at the Institute. He is remembered by students and colleagues as a pillar of strength with a positive attitude and a kind word ready for anyone who needed it.

Nemanja joined IHE Delft in 1990 as a lecturer and went on to hold an array of positions during his Institute career. From 1994 to 1997 and from 2001 to 2003, he served as Programme Coordinator for the MSc programme in Urban Water and Sanitation.

In 1999, he moved to Ghana to serve as Resident Project Leader for a large capacity-developing project focusing on water supply and environmental sanitation for Ghana and West Africa, conducted at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. In the subsequent years, he served as Project Director for various follow-up projects.

Nemanja’s contributions also include his work as 2010 to 2015 term as Project Director for a capacity-developing project conducted at Tshwane University of Technology, in Pretoria, South Africa, that focused on enhancing South Africa’s institutional capacity in water and waste water treatment.

While working at IHE Delft, he also completed his PhD dissertation on Pattern recognition for reliability assessment of water distribution networks, which he defended at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in February 2012.

At the time of his passing, Nemanja was Associate Professor of Water Supply Engineering in the Department of Water Supply, Sanitation and Environmental Engineering. From 2012 to 2018, he was the department’s deputy head and held responsibility for the daily running of the department.

Very passionate and gifted teacher

Over the course of his career at IHE Delft, Nemanja pioneered the development of two educational courses: one on basic and one on advanced water transport and distribution (WTD) including the application of computer models. . In addition, he wrote a two-volume textbook on Urban Water Distribution, published first in 2006 with a second edition released in 2020. At the time of his passing, he was working on a third edition that was set to include even more new material and insights.

Nemanja also pioneered IHE Delft’s first online course and its first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) in WTD, enabling students from all over the world to learn the basics of planning, hydraulic and engineering design and operation of WTD  systems. The MOOC and the online course  include more than 40 hours of video lectures and a database of over 1000 problems students could use to teach and assess themselves. These courses remain among IHE Delft’s most successful online courses.

As well as being a dedicated and passionate teacher, Nemanja was also a fervent researcher. Throughout the years, he supervised close to 100 MSc candidates and was co-promotor for a PhD candidate in WTD.


An online memorial page quickly filled with tributes to Nemanja from mourners around the world. 

Course participants, students and alumni remember him as a very patient and dedicated teacher who listened attentively to their questions and concerns. The engaging classroom experience he created helped students develop a life-long love of learning.  Colleagues remember him as a kind, gentle and patient person who always was ready to support with advice, discussions or explanations. All remember him for his dedication to IHE Delft and its work.

Nemanja played a key role in making the IHE Delft what it is: an important institute that makes a global impact – and while doing so, transforms the lives of those engaged with it. The Institute honours his memory by continuing his important work.


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