About the course

This course aims to instruct participants on how to critically design WASH responses to humanitarian crises while focusing on protecting environmental and public health. Participants will become familiar with the critical link between public health and humanitarian WASH responses, learn how to design WASH approaches with a public health focus, and explain how to work with epidemiological data to strategically plan whole-of-disaster cycle approaches.

This course forms part of the Graduate Professional Diploma Programme (GPDP) in Humanitarian WASH offered by IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education. Successful completion of this module grants 5 ECTS (European Credits).

What will you learn

Topic 1: Introduction to WASH and public health in emergencies

  • Introduction about the type of emergencies and disasters (tbc what is covered in the governance module)
  • Introduction to communicable diseases and link to health
  • Effects of disasters on environmental & public health facilities and services
  • Introduction to the SPHERE standards on water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion

Topic 2: Design a WASH response to reduce risks of public health emergencies or to respond to public health crises

  • The phases of humanitarian emergencies (in acute emergency phase vs protracted/long term crisis) from the public health perspective.
  • Prevention and public health emergency preparedness.
  • Introduction to the phases of project cycle management, highlighting the key phases from the public health perspective.
  • Effective programme/project design and implementation.
  • Monitoring and evaluation.
  • WASH in Healthcare Facilities

Topic 3: Epidemiology in emergencies

  • Foundation of field epidemiology
  • Conducting a field (outbreak) investigation (rapid assessments; cross sectional surveys) [incl. data collection methodology (objectives and data needs; protocols; surveys; sample size)]
  • Data analysis (basic statistics; interpretation of outbreak data)

Topic 4: WASH approaches in emergency contexts

  • Description of WASH approaches in low- and medium-income countries
  • Health impacts of WASH interventions in disease outbreaks


This course is scheduled for 18 weeks.

Estimated learning effort

6-8 hours per week. You are required to pass all graded assignments to complete the course and receive credits.


Created by:

This educational material was developed for, and made available under, the Cooperation Framework between IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Global WASH Cluster, including the vital support of the following organizations: Center for Disease Control, International Committee of the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, OXFAM, Save the Children, and Solidarités International.