Applications for the Fall 2024 Humanitarian Water Engineering Course are now open!

Applications can be made by filling out the form available below.



The course is organized into seven units:

  • Weeks 1-2: Pre-reading phase with two introductory units that provide fundamental background into humanitarian response and the role of WASH and public health.
  • Weeks 3-10: Intensive phase with five technical units that explore the key issues in safe water supply.

Units A & B are delivered mainly through curated readings during the first two weeks of the course. Units 1-5 represent the main technical content of the course, delivered through a mix of readings, lectures, and group problem-based learning activities.

The total course time commitment is approximately 70 hours over 12 weeks. Participants should be ready to commit  around 6 hours per week over the course of the 12 weeks.

Pre reading phase: 4 – 23 September 2024
Intensive phase: 23 September – 4 December 2024

Content may be subject to change.

Pre-reading phase

Unit A: Humanitarian principles, Standards, and Structures

  • Human rights, international law, and the humanitarian principles.
  • Humanitarian standards: Sphere and The Core Humanitarian Standard.
  • Technical standards relevant to water supply systems in emergencies.
  • Overview of the Cluster Approach, humanitarian coordination structures and mechanisms.
  • Accountability, feedback, and community engagement.

Unit B: WASH and Public Health

  • Water supply-related infectious diseases, transmission pathways and risk factors.
  • Key concepts in epidemiology.
  • Chemical water quality and human health.
  • The role of WASH interventions in addressing environmental health risks.

Intensive phase

Unit 1: Water Quality Characterization and Risk Assessment

  • Biological, chemical, and physical dimensions of water quality.
  • Linking water quality to acute and chronic health risks.
  • Aesthetic aspects of water quality.
  • Laboratory- and field-based methods for biological, chemical, and physical water quality testing,
  • Water quality monitoring in humanitarian settings.
  • Raw water quality impacts on water treatment processes.
  • Water Safety Planning, risk assessment and management.

Unit 2: Water Source Development in Emergencies

  • Quantifying water needs.
  • Water supply initial assessments.
  • Basic hydrological model, catchment scale analysis.
  • Evolution of water supplies from acute to stabilized contexts.
  • Developing and protecting ground and surface water sources.

Unit 3: Water Treatment in Emergencies

  • Multiple-barrier concept of water treatment.
  • Key treatment principles: coagulation and flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and chemical disinfection.
  • Typical treatment plant configurations for surface and groundwater sources.
  • Advanced processes for specific ion and mineral removal (e.g. reverse osmosis).
  • The role of household and decentralized treatment options.
  • Water chlorination for residual protection and monitoring.

Unit 4: Distribution and Safe Water Chain

  • Manual and powered groundwater abstraction options.
  • Pump and power sizing concepts, including solar power.
  • Water trucking in emergency water supply operations.
  • Water network design considerations and practicalities.
  • Basic hydraulic principles in pumped and gravity flow systems.
  • Maintaining the safe water chain.
  • Role of community engagement in designing equitable and appropriate water supply systems.
  • Water supply operations and maintenance.

Unit 5: Outbreak Preparedness and Response

  • Water-related components of outbreak preparedness and response planing.
  • Water supplies for healthcare facilities.
  • Maintaining effective safe water supplies as a component of outbreak response.
  • Multi-sector coordination in outbreak response settings.

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