Agricultural Water Management for Arid and Semi Arid Climates

You will learn to deal with the development, adaptation and management of agricultural water management and flood protection provisions for arid and semi-arid climates.

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  • J

    What is Joint Programme

    Part of the programme is given at a partner institute, often in another country/continent. Joint programmes have varying start and end dates.

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Joint Programme, Haramaya University, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia and UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands24 months, starts in September

Programme under review
For the academic year 2014/15 the admission to this programme is on hold. We kindly suggest you to apply for one of the other programmes under Land and Water Development.  

For whom?

Officials of ministries, provincial, district or city governments working favourably at planning units, aged 38 years or younger, and officially proposed by their superior.


Students who successfully complete this joint double degree programme will be awarded two Master's degrees: one from UNESCO-IHE and one from HU. The degree students receive from UNESCO-IHE is the degree in Water Science and Engineering with a specialization in Agricultural water management for Arid and Semi-Arid Climates. HU will award an MSc degree in Irrigation Engineering. These degrees will only be awarded to participants who have successfully completed both the course work and the research-based MSc thesis.


Start: 16 September 2014
Submission deadline: 15 June 2014

Learning objectives

After completing this specialization, you will be able to:

  • Have in-depth understanding and specific knowledge of the current concepts and theories of irrigation, drainage, and land reclamation and land consolidation technology to support a sustainable development of identified lands with different types of land use, and the multi-disciplinary involvement in the water sector linkages with the wider aspects of society, economy and the environment;
  • Master the major hydraulic and environmental engineering aspects and hydrological methodologies, as well as applications for irrigation, drainage and flood protection schemes, including techniques for data collection, processing and analysis, and modelling;
  • Contribute to the planning, design, development and implementation (action plan for the realisation) of the hydraulic infrastructure for land development and management schemes;
  • Advise developers, system managers and water users on the operation and maintenance aspects of the water management schemes;
  • Formulate and conduct hydraulic and environmental engineering research, plan development and designs in the field of integrated lowland development, experiments and tests for both practical and scientific purposes, either independently or within a team-based framework;
  • Adequately communicate methodology, research results, plans, designs, evaluations, conclusions and recommendations in written, oral and graphical form to various audiences;
  • Formulate and evaluate a concept with its alternatives for integrated land development for areas with different type of land use, and assess the technical and economic feasibility, as well as the environmental sustainability of the proposed integrated land development and/or management plans.

Structure & contents

This 24-month joint double degree programme offers students the possibility to study at two renowned institutes for international postgraduate education: HU and UNESCO-IHE. The coursework part of the programme starts in HU in September and the lectures, exercises, field and laboratory work at HU are organized in semesters.

  • September - January

    Haramaya University, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
    • Soil Plant Water Relations Elective

      Course at HU

    • Applied Hydrology Elective

      Course at HU

    • Surface Irrigation Systems Design Elective

      Course at HU

    • Experimental Design and Analysis Elective

      Course at HU

    • Course Work Semester II Elective

      Course at HU

    • Design of Pressurised Irrigation Systems Elective

      Course at HU

    • Dams Hydraulic Structures Elective

      Course at HU

    • Drainage Engineering and Salinity Control Elective

      Course at HU

    • Watershed Management Elective

      Course at HU

The programme continues at UNESCO-IHE in February. At UNESCO-IHE education is organized in modules (3-week time blocks); two modules are followed by a 1-week examination period. Students return to HU to follow Environmental Quality Management and to work on their thesis. The MSc thesis is finalized at UNESCO-IHE from February onwards.

  • February - October

    UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands
    • Water Management Systems and Agronomy I Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Analyse and evaluate the various types of flow and to apply the hydraulic principles for uniform and non-uniform open channel, and flow in specific hydraulic structures in irrigation and drainage engineering issues
      2. Analyse soil-water-crop yield relationships, management options under land or water scarcity and water saving techniques, and be able to determine crop water requirements
      3. Discuss crop water requirements, drainage requirements and understand their mutual relationship
      4. Determine the boundary conditions required for water delivery and distribution systems at field level
      5. Select appropriate irrigation and drainage methods under different physical and agricultural circumstances
      6. Make a preliminary layout and design of a gravity irrigation and drainage network at tertiary level.
    • Water Management Systems and Agronomy II Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Analyse and evaluate and to apply the hydraulic principles for pipe flow in irrigation and drainage engineering.
      2. Present, process and interpret results of hydraulic laboratory measurements in a technical report
      3. Explain the principles of the hydrological cycle, the basic characteristics of precipitation and evaporation, the principles of reservoir operation.
      4. Apply some statistical tools used in hydrology, rainfall-runoff relations and design floods
      5. Have an understanding of water-crop yield relationships, management options under land or water scarcity and water saving techniques and be able to determine crop water requirements.
    • Aspects of Irrigation and Drainage Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Select a suitable flow control system, the appurtenant flow control structures and to specify the operation rules of the structures and social implications of applied irrigation techniques for different users
      2. Assess the sediment transport in irrigation canals and to evaluate the effect of various operation scenarios on the sedimentation; make a design of the horizontal and vertical alignment of irrigation canals considering various sediment conditions and modes of operation and maintenance;
      3. Discuss the importance of all environmental and social aspects that complete the determination of the feasibility of any land development project
      4. Describe the economic feasibility of land development projects and have a first understanding of financial reporting
    • Service Oriented Management of Irrigation Systems Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Formulate policy objectives for irrigation development and management
      2. Gain insight to the laws, legislations, and traditions pertaining to the development and use of water resources for agriculture
      3. Identify water delivery arrangements including suitable flow control amenable to objectives
      4. Comprehend different levels of water delivery service and associated costs
      5. Conceptualize legislative, organisational and financial attributes of irrigation service delivery
      6. Draw up service agreements considering cost recovery and accountability; Design asset management programs and action plans for implementation; and Devise monitoring & evaluation and benchmarking systems for assessing system performance
    • Conveyance Systems Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Make simple unsteady flow computations for open channels and closed conduits
      2. Apply DUFLOW for non-steady flow phenomena in open irrigation and drainage networks; to evaluate the results and to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the model for solving surface flow problems
      3. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of various numerical schemes for solving sets of equations in surface flow modelling and to select the appropriate models for stationary and non-stationary flow in open channels and in pipes and to evaluate the results
      4. Determine the requirements for water table and salinity control in irrigated areas; Understand the factors that influence the functioning of a surface drainage system; Design a surface drainage system
      5. Explain the use of modern tools as RS and GIS in combination with the use of computer models
      6. Have a basic insight in the need and format of laws pertaining to the development and use of water resources and have a general understanding of law, legislation, common law and traditions
    • Fieldtrip and Fieldwork WSE Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Demonstrate a multidisciplinary overview of actual technical, research and organizational activities in the field of water management, hydraulic engineering and hydrology.
      2. Report detailed technical information received.
      3. Select and apply different, appropriate field instrumentation and measurement methods in practice and organise the measurement.
      4. Critically analyse field results, and identify/recognise possible areas of error or uncertainty.
      5. Integrate quantitative measurements with qualitative terrain observations and prior information to evaluate and analyse the relevant predominant processes in a study area.
      6. Apply this assimilation of data to engineering cases.
    • Irrigation and Drainage Structures Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Select the appropriate type of structure for irrigation and drainage networks, to establish the boundary conditions and to prepare a preliminary hydraulic design;
      2. Understand and analyse environmental aspects of land and water development projects, identify environmental impacts, and to identify measures to alleviate or mitigate the negative impacts;
      3. Identify the suitability of various types of pumps in specific situations, to define the boundary conditions for the application of pumps and lifting devices, to assess the requirements for operation and maintenance.
    • Advanced Methods and Equipment Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Determine the requirements for water table and salinity control in irrigated areas; Understand the factors that influence the functioning of a drainage system; Design a subsurface drainage system
      2. Design surface and overhead pressure irrigation systems and understand the need for drainage in irrigated areas
      3. Explain the use of modern tools as RS and GIS in combination with the use of computer models
      4. Predict effects of different water qualities on agricultural crops, and stock farming and human health
      5. Determine the effects and related water management and land use zoning that are involved when living in flood prone areas
      6. Discuss the interactions between land use, water management and flood control in flood prone areas

Tuition & fellowships

Information about tuition fees can be found here.

Application & Admission

Applicaton procedure

Interested people apply for admission with UNESCO-IHE. Academic screening is jointly done by UH and UNESCO-IHE. Pre-selection will be done by UH and final selection by UH and UNESCO-IHE. The necessary online application form can be downloaded here.

Admission criteria

  • To be admitted, prospective students must hold a BSc degree in fields such as civil, agricultural, or environmental engineering, or other relevant fields that may contribute to integrated lowlands development and management.
  • In principle, candidates should have some working experience in an environment related to the specialization. At least three years experience is normally preferred.
  • The English language requirements for all of UNESCO-IHE's educational programmes.