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For more information on the HWE course, please see our online information session:


The Humanitarian Water Engineering Intensive Course offers participants an opportunity to gain essential knowledge and skills on safe water supply in humanitarian emergencies. The course covers the theoretical fundamentals of, and practical considerations for, the design and operation of water supply systems in humanitarian response including source water selection, water quality, water treatment, distribution and the safe water chain, and outbreak preparedness and response.

Over the course of twelve weeks, participants will engage in a rich, multifaceted online learning experience consisting of curated readings, knowledge-testing quizzes, lectures from experienced engineering practitioners and faculty, and small group problem-based learning (PBL) activities guided by talented facilitators.

The flow and the blending of the engineering fundamentals and field applications were well done. The case studies were well crafted and depict real life situations in the field. This made the team engagement very real. The guidance given by the facilitators was amazing. I have used the knowledge from the course to improve my WASH engagements in the field.

Jackson M. Lochokon | Water and Sanitation Team Leader, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders

Learning Objectives

Participants will gain an understanding of how to get safe water from sources to populations in precarious situations. The course provides a comprehensive overview of five core technical elements of safe water supply in emergencies:

  1. Water quality characterization and risk assessment
  2. Water source development (groundwater and surface waters)
  3. Water treatment methods, process selection, and design
  4. Safe water supply chain (distribution and delivery)
  5. Waterborne disease outbreak preparedness and response

Participants will gain an understanding of the operational context of humanitarian response by engaging with the following cross-cutting themes throughout the course:

  • Humanitarian principles, structures, and standards
  • Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and public health
  • Needs assessments, monitoring, evaluation & learning (MEL), and project management
  • Human factors and community engagement
  • Operational research and emerging questions

Recently, I applied to work with a humanitarian organization. For the position there was a water and sanitation technical test to be taken as part of the recruitment process. The HWE course allowed me to get through the test without much difficulty. If I wasn’t clear on something specific in the questions—I had the confidence to know where to find the answer. I’m thankful I learned of the resources that are out there and how to navigate them.

J. C. | Firefighter, Ontario, Canada


This course is intended to help individuals prepare to work as WASH practitioners in the humanitarian sector. The course is most appropriate for those with some education, training, and/or experience in water engineering or in humanitarian response. We especially encourage applications from:

  • Humanitarian professionals from UN agencies and international and local NGOs who want to deepen their knowledge and skills on water engineering in humanitarian response.
  • Professional engineers (and other technical specialists) who want to understand how engineering skills are relevant in humanitarian settings.
  • Graduate students who want to deepen their technical knowledge and gain exposure to the humanitarian sector.

Working fluency in English is essential as all course activities, including PBL group work, will be conducted in English. Participants will need to have a stable and reliable internet connection with sufficient bandwidth for online audio meetings (sufficient bandwidth for online video meetings is, however, strongly encouraged). As an online course with global enrolment across multiple time-zones, participants should be prepared to be flexible with respect to the timing of sessions in their local time-zone.

Participants who successfully complete all course components will be awarded a certificate. Please note that this is a non-degree course and is not intended to count toward degree completion requirements.

Engineering Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

The HWE course offers engineering knowledge that participants may consider for their continuing professional development (CPD) requirements for engineering licensure, at the participant’s discretion.

The main reason I joined the course was to expand my knowledge in design, construction, and operation of water systems in emergencies. I was surprised how well, as a group of students from around the world, we were able to discuss problems freely and actively. I gained a lot of experience from them. Earlier this year I was managing projects in a refugee settlement in Northern Uganda and I was able to apply what I had learned in the course.

Allan Ochen | Project Manager, WET Consulting Ltd., Uganda

The Humanitarian Water Engineering Intensive Course is an initiative of:

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