IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (IHE Delft)

IHE Delft was established in 1957 when a postgraduate diploma course in hydraulic engineering was first offered to practicing professionals from developing countries. Today, IHE Delft has developed into the largest graduate water education facility in the world.


As of 1 January 2017, IHE Delft (formerly UNESCO-IHE) operates as a Foundation under Dutch law, working under the auspices of UNESCO. Since 1957 the Institute has provided graduate education to more than 23,000 water professionals from over 190 countries. They form the Institute’s alumni community, the largest global network of water professionals in the world. Numerous research and capacity development projects are carried out, in partnership, to strengthen capacity in the water sector worldwide. Through our overarching work on capacity development, IHE Delft aims to make a tangible contribution to achieving all Sustainable Development Goals in which water is key.


IHE Delft’s mission is to work in partnership to strengthen capacity in the water sector to achieve global sustainable development. The Institute does this by offering graduate education programmes, short and online courses, including a growing number of MOOCs and tailor-made training. In addition, we perform demand-driven research activities and carry out numerous institutional strengthening projects, to increase the capacity of governments and decision-makers in developing countries. The main focus of the education programmes are mid-career professionals from Africa, Asia and Latin-America. However, in recent years an increasing number of students come from OECD countries, many of whom are self-payers. Students are attracted to the international, interdisciplinary character of the programmes offered at IHE Delft. Drawing on practical examples from projects that are largely carried out in the Global South and often led by staff members, the education and research programmes acquire relevance for water-related issues worldwide. In addition, around 120 PhD fellows work together with other researchers from many countries, dealing with topics related to water and the environment.

After graduation, the vast majority of students coming from the Global South return to their home country to continue working in a water-related or environmental field, in the public and private sector, as well as for NGOs and international organizations.

Partners in industry

  • Nauta Dutilh,
  • Rabo bank,
  • Vitens Evides International,
  • Nestle,
  • Rand Water South Africa,
  • ADAN Corporate,
  • Coca Cola,
  • Danone. 

Education partners in the global south

  • Asian Institute of Technology – Thailand
  • Universidad del Valle – Colombia
  • Hohai University – China
  • University for Peace – Costa Rica
  • Makerere University – Uganda


IHE Delft has projects in almost all countries in Asia, Latina America, Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-saharan Africa.

NGO partners

Oxfam Novib, SNV

UN organisations

IHE Delft works mainly with UNESCO, FAO, UNICEF and UNIDO, but also to lesser extent with UNDP and UNEP

Image: copyright © Institute for Water Education