Water Supply and Sanitation in Emergencies

A blended learning course: 4 weeks online and 9 consecutive days in Copenhagen

Early identification of technically sound and sustainable water and sanitary interventions is crucial when it comes to saving lives and preventing diseases in almost any disaster situation.

Experience gathered during recent disaster operations demonstrates the urgent need for highly skilled professionals with specialised expertise in water supply and sanitation, as the lack of interdisciplinary personnel has proved to be a barrier to efficient and effective response.

The University of Copenhagen offers an intensive course on water supply and sanitation in emergencies for professionals working with - or aiming to work with - disasters and relief operations.

The course is designed in such a way that each participant attains the knowledge and skills necessary for prompt action in recovery situations, especially in developing countries.

On completion of the course, participants will be able to access and prioritize water supply and sanitation in emergencies with foresight, and make appropriate decisions to prevent disease outbreak.

Let course leader Peter Kjær Mackie Jensen and the fly take you through the content of the course in this introductory video: 

Deadline for applications: 1 February 2020
Start your online application now


School of Global Health, University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research, University of Copenhagen
The course takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark

Course leader:

Associate Professor Peter Kjær Jensen
All questions about course content and admission: mdma@sund.ku.dk


This is an optional advanced course in the Master of Disaster Management programme. This course can also be taken as a stand-alone course. Information about fees and admission requirements below.


Course dates: 2 March to 14 April 2020
4 weeks online from 2 - 27 March 2020
9 consecutive days (incl. weekends) on-campus  from 28 March to 5 April 2020
Individual Written Assignment (Exam) due on 14 April 2020

ECTS credits:




Intended learning outcomes:

By the end of the course participants will have a comprehensive theoretical and practical knowledge of water and sanitation in the different phases of emergencies, including disease prevention and preparedness.

On completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Knowledge
    Demonstrate knowledge on Water and sanitation issues in different settings and accepted approaches/guidelines to deal with them;

  • Skills
    Analyze and apply this knowledge to assess and prioritize the water and sanitation needs for a population in emergency situations in a variety of practical settings, adjusting to time and resources available;

  • Competences
    Design and develop appropriate water and sanitation  strategies for taking  appropriate measures to avoid disease outbreak situations in emergency situations


The course will be divided into 5 main clusters:

  1. Anthropological assessment approaches in emergency situations 

  2. Health and disease transmission in emergency settings 

  3. Technical and theoretical aspects of water and sanitation 

  4. Practical aspects of water and sanitation

  5. Case study and exam where the participants will apply knowledge and skills acquired during the course


This course is a blended learning course.

The first four weeks consist of part-time online learning, which can be undertaken from anywhere in the world as long as you have a computer with an internet connection. Moderated online discussions, online tests and short-recorded lectures are central parts of the online learning experience.

The last 9 days of the course take place in Copenhagen, and will include a combination of lectures, group work, practical exercises, self/-group study, case studies, presentations and discussions in plenary. The main emphasis will be on participatory approaches and active learning. The practical exercises include latrine construction, water purification and other hands-on tasks that will combine theory and practice.


Course book: Engineering in Emergencies - A Practical Guide for Relief Workers by Jan Davis & Robert Lambert. 

Assessment Procedures:

Individual written assignment. Grading according to the Danish 7-scale.


The applicants must live up to the Master of Disaster Management admission criteria.

Class size:

The number of participants is limited to 40. The course may be cancelled if there are less than 12 participants.


Reduced fee: DKK 12,500 (approx. EUR 1,666)
For students from EU/EEA or Switzerland.

Normal fee: DKK 18,000 (approx. EUR 2,400)
For all other students.

For approximate exchange rates between DKK (Danish Krone) and other currencies please contact your bank or use fx X-rates.com to calculate your currency. All fees are subject to regulation.


We do not offer any scholarships, nor can we assist in finding funding, but on our page about scholarships we have collected some information that might be useful.