Celebrating 60 years IHE Delft

and 3 years of VIA Water

In 2017, IHE Delft (formerly UNESCO-IHE), the Delft-based Institute for Water Education celebrates 60 years of solving water challenges worldwide, whilst the VIA Water programme began working from the Institute 3 years ago, in May 2014. 

Starting in 1957, with its first course, IHE Delft has pursued efforts to increase the capacity of developing countries to manage their water resources, increasing security from disaster and expanding access to clean water and sanitation, especially for the poor. Today, IHE Delft is the largest graduate water education facility in the world with over 15,000 alumni from around 160 countries. The Netherlands became renowned for its expertise in the field of hydraulic engineering solutions, after the devastating North Sea flood of 1953. At this time an ambitious flood defence system - the Delta Works - was conceived and deployed. In 1955 this led to several developing countries inquiring about the possibility of having their engineers trained in hydraulic engineering in The Netherlands, leading to the first 'International Course in Hydraulic Engineering', and inspiring the setup of the Institute (now known as IHE Delft) in 1957. Since 1957, the Institute has provided graduate education to more than 15.000 water professionals from over 160 countries, the vast majority from the developing world.

In 2014, VIA Water joined the Institute. The programme was commissioned as one of the 'Knowledge Platforms' the Dutch government established, to build a scientific research base for future policy making in Dutch international development aid. In the Dutch water sector, a different view was expressed: many people felt there was a greater need to actually test the research and new ideas, and see what works in practice and what does not. A plan was made to serve this need, and the first outline of the programme became visible: a programme to look for innovative solutions to solve water problems, through which could be tested methods that might make a solid base for future development. Through the trials, errors and successes of the projects funded, the programme hoped to learn, draw conclusions and ultimately re-invest this knowledge into the sector.

IHE Delft quickly expressed an interest in hosting the programme, since the linkages were clear: many of the students (and staff) of the Institute come from the VIA Water focus countries, and the research that is being done in Delft, would afterwards make for perfect pilots under the fund of the programme. The expertise of many of the skilled staff of the Institute has already been used in reviewing the proposals that have been submitted to the VIA Water fund, and the IHE Delft alumni networks in the focus countries of the programme, have been very helpful.

In 2017, the IHE Delft 60th anniversary celebrations will look back to the Institute's education of qualified professionals, research efforts and contribution to the building of individual and institutional capacity to respond effectively to water challenges. The year will also look ahead to the coming challenges and opportunities, including those embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially SDG 6 (providing access to clean water and sanitation).

On June 10th 2017 the Institute has an Open Day which will give local people the chance to find out about the wide ranging activities of the Institute. Information about the Open Day will be published soon on the website of the Institute: https://www.un-ihe.org/