Thesis subject

Societal Impact of Water and Development Projects

One of today’s grand societal challenges is water management in the global South. Working with partners in the global South is a key approach for IHE Delft to help solve these water and development challenges. Bringing together knowledge and experience from different perspectives will help find local solutions and strengthen capacities.

The DUPC2 programme at IHE Delft ( is a 40 million programme running from 2016 – 2023 and supports a large number of partnership activities on education and training and research and innovation for water and development in the global South. The programme also aims to create synergies and further collaboration between activities and partners.

An important question for the DUPC2 programme and the partners, is how to assess the societal impact of the water and development projects under the programme. The purpose of this MSc topic is to contribute new insights on concepts, approaches and experiences used to measure and manage societal outcomes and impacts, and to contribute to a knowledge base on outcome and impact evaluation for water and development projects.

This could entail taking a water and development project, ideally a project supported by DUPC2, and analysing impacts of the project based on a novel approach for impact evaluation. There are various methods emerging that claim usefulness for impact assessments. These include methods such as outcome harvesting, contribution analysis, most-significant-change stories, but also novel uses of systematic reviews or methods that help understand and trace impacts in complex socio-ecological systems such as social network analysis and actor models. Applying one or more of these methods and critically assessing their practical usefulness will offer a useful addition to the body of knowledge (and methods) on impact evaluation.

Another avenue could be to assess the current evaluation system in place within and around the DUPC2 programme, to learn about the current performance of the DUPC evaluation system and possible ways to improve this. For this, an institutional perspective could be used for the analysis of the current evaluation systems in place for the DUPC2 programme.

Insights from this MSc research will help the programme to improve its impact evaluation methods, especially in the design of its new phase (planned to start 2022) and can inform project leaders at IHE Delft and partner institutes on useful and practical methods to manage and evaluate societal outcomes and impact.

About IHE Delft

IHE Delft is the largest international graduate water education facility in the world and is based in Delft, the Netherlands. The Institute confers fully accredited MSc degrees, and PhD degrees in collaboration with partner universities. In addition, more than 1,000 Tailor-made and Short courses have been delivered to participants world-wide in the last 10 years. Also, numerous research and capacity development projects are carried out throughout the world. The mission of IHE Delft is to contribute to the education and training of professionals, to expand the knowledge base through research and to build the capacity of sector organizations, knowledge centres and other institutions active in the fields of water, the environment and infrastructure, particularly in developing countries and countries in transition.