IHE Delft is educating the world about water
TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTO © IHE DELFT
Finding the balance between having enough fresh water and protecting people from the risks that water can pose, has become essential in today’s world. IHE Delft Institute for Water Education educates water professionals from all over the world to be problem-orientated, to try to meet water-related challenges effectively. “Water is a necessity for peace, prosperity and stability in this world,” says Eddy Moors, rector of the Institute and a professor in climate change.
IHE Delft was founded in 1957. “After the North Sea floods in 1953 – where nearly 2,000 people died – and following floods in other parts of the world, the Dutch government wanted to put the knowledge gained after the floods in one place,” continues Moors. “This way we could share it with the rest of the world.” From there, IHE Delft expanded the subjects to water pollution, access to clean water and much more. It is the largest post-graduate institute of its kind in the world. “Our work here was seen as so important, that in 2003 we joined UNESCO, and are now independently operating under their auspices.” IHE Delft also advises international organisations and governments about water management and governance.
A Master of Science in Water
The Institute offers five Master of Science (MSc) programmes, with a total of 16 specialisations covering the entire spectrum of water. The programmes run for 12 or 18 months and are followed by water professionals from all walks of government, private sector and academic institutions. At their ‘campus’ in Delft in the Netherlands, students have access to teaching and research laboratories, and there is residential accommodation provided nearby.
Many of the students at IHE Delft are people from Asia, Africa and Latin America, who want more knowledge about water issues. The programmes are orientated towards practical knowledge, but approached from an academic angle. “Water issues are not isolated, they have to be put in a larger, geopolitical context,” says Moors. A lot of the students come to IHE Delft on fellowships, provided by the Dutch government, their countries or international foundations such as Rotary and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. IHE Delft relies on partners like this for student scholarships. “It is amazing to see how all their individual skills and experiences come together during their academic journey,” smiles Moors. “They really learn from each other, and we learn from them as well. We want to educate as many water professionals as possible, to make a real change in the world.”