A new education program on water and sanitation in humanitarian contexts

On the 3rd of May, IHE Delft hosted the inaugural session of the Graduate Professional Diploma Program (GPDP) on Humanitarian WASH. Gabriela Cuadrado Quesada and Tineke Hooijmans introduce the new program, implemented in collaboration with several NGOs working in the humanitarian sector.

IHE Delft, UNICEF, and the Global WASH Cluster in collaboration with several NGOs like International Committee of the Red Cross, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Solitarités International, OXFAM, and Save the Children aim to further professionalise the provision of humanitarian WASH education by creating a new education program at IHE Delft. The Graduate Professional Diploma Program (GPDP) on Humanitarian WASH consists of four accredited online modules that are structured in a flexible way, so that a wider audience of participants can engage in it. There is also the possibility of  doing only one of the modules as a short, autonomous course. 

The themes, topics and duration of these four modules have been elaborated in a consultation process with UNICEF, IHE Delft and the main humanitarian actors who are part of the steering committee of the project.  The consultation process was necessary to indicate the needs and gaps in the humanitarian sector. The co-developers identified were from the organisations working in the humanitarian sector, to relate the academic content to their practical knowledge and experience. All modules were reviewed by the steering committee as a final check on the practical relevance.

The consultation process to elaborate the modules

The inaugural session included an introduction to the GPDP presented by Franck Bouvet, Deputy Global WASH Cluster Coordinator and Tineke Hooijmans, Associate Professor of Sanitary Engineering at IHE Delft. They explained the process of creating this new programme and highlighted its relevance.

After the introduction, the cross-cutting themes –localisation of humanitarian aid, accountability to affected populations, WASH inclusive response, gender and protection– were presented. The cross-cutting themes are considered core matters within the four modules. This presentation was done by Karine Deniel, WASH professional.

Subsequently, the four modules were briefly introduced by the module coordinators, emphasizing the learning objectives, content, structure, assessments and feedback.  Module 1, Governance in Humanitarian Context was introduced by Gabriela Cuadrado-Quesada, then Module 2, Environmental and Public Health in Humanitarian Contexts was presented by Claire Furlong, followed by Shirish Singh introducing Module 3, Water and Sanitation in Urban Humanitarian Contexts; and finally, Juliette Cortes-Arevalo gave an overview of Module 4, Building Resilient Systems in Fragile Contexts.

The four modules of the GPDP

This round of introductions was followed by an activity where all the participants were put in breakout rooms to introduce themselves and share their expectations of the GPDP to another participant. Then, in a plenary, everyone introduced someone else and their expectations. During the plenary we discovered the multiple backgrounds and knowledges of the participants, ranging from people who have been working in the humanitarian sector for many years to people that have only recently joined the sector. The multiple places where people were working ranged from UNICEF to local NGOs and Academia.

We concluded with a trivia, which focused on humanitarian WASH questions but that also contained some random questions to get the participants more familiar with the Netherlands, such as who is the prime minister of the Netherlands? How much of the Netherlands is below sea level? And how much of the total surface of Netherlands consists of water? The winner of the trivia was María Pinzón Mendoza, from Spain, who is currently working at the German Red Cross.

To sum-up, the inaugural session of the GPDP and Module 1 was a great morning full of learning and fun. We look forward for a great interaction with all of the students – the total number of the registered students is 30 – in Module 1, which will run until September 2021, when module 2 will start. Next year we will continue the GPDP with module 3 starting in January and module 4 beginning in May.

For more information about the GPDP programme visit: https://www.un-ihe.org/graduate-professional-diploma-programme-humanitarian-wash


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