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2017-02-13 | News

Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in Developing Countries: MOOCs from AMBS

Two Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) on Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in Developing Countries, taught by  the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research’s Professor Dale Whittington and Dr Duncan Thomas were launched at the Alliance Manchester Business School On 29 January 2017.


Dale and Duncan’s first water MOOC in 2014 had 17,000 learners enrolled from over 190 countries. The Global Water Partnership (GWP) has endorsed these two courses, and instructor Prof. Whittington was a member of the GWP Technical Committee.

Duncan explains, “This MOOC is free-of-charge to take, and will help you further develop your skills to examine critically, and in quite a lot of depth, current conditions and trends in water supply and sanitation services primarily in low and middle-income countries around the world. There’s some great data discussed in this MOOC, and we really tease out the politicaleconomic, and technical reasons why a billion people still lack access to improved water supplies, and why about two billion don’t have improved sanitation services.”

The two MOOCs, can be taken in a sequence, or separately, depending on learners’ interests.

Part 1, sub-titled Understanding Complex Problems allows you to develop skills to examine critical current conditions and trends in water supply and sanitation services in low and middle-income countries around the world. Part 1 explores the underlying political, economic, and technical reasons why a billion people still lack access to improved water supplies, and about two billion do not have improved sanitation services. Part 1 covers water problems in megacities, peri-urban slums, and rural communities, as well as insights from the UK water sector’s history. Part 1 invites learners to write a real-world ‘policy memo’ assignment to develop and justify practical and measurable performance indicators for evaluating water supply and sanitation programs in Africa.

See trailor of part 1: 'Understanding Complex Problems' here

Part 2, sub-titled Developing Effective Interventions, assists you to develop skills to understand what can be done to solve global water supply and sanitation problems. Learners examine the main strategies that national governments and donors have tried to improve water and sanitation conditions, and lessons learned from these experiences. Part 2 addresses some deep-rooted reasons why communities may resist even well-meaning, well-designed water and sanitation reforms. Part 2 also explores water pricing and tariff design issues, and changes to water institutions like privatization and regulation. Part 2 invites learners to write an ‘information strategy’ assignment on water tariff reform in Egypt.

See trailor of part 1: 'Developing Effective Interventions' here

Both MOOCs also feature guest contributions from practitioners, scholars and innovators, including: Clive Agnew, Eduardo Araral, Leong Ching, Barbara Evans, Regina Finn, Arif Hasan, Marc Jeuland, Don Lauria, Diana Mitlin, Kamal Kar, Stephen Littlechild, and Wu Xun.

Dale Whittington is a Professor at the Alliance Manchester Business School in the UK, also at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States, and Visiting Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Dale has worked on water and sanitation policy and planning issues for over 40 years in many low and middle-income countries. He has worked with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, OECD, and United States Agency for International Development. He has served on the Technical Committee of the Global Water Partnership and is the Chair of the Board of the Environment-for-Development,  a network of research centres in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, India, China, and Vietnam.

Dr Duncan Thomas has researched the UK and European water sectors for 15 years, focusing on overcoming barriers to technological, organizational, regulatory and policy innovations that could improve sustainability and climate change resilience issues. He has advised Ofwat, the UK Government, the European Commission, the International Water Association, and various water utilities. Duncan is a Lecturer at the Alliance Manchester Business School.

 How do I enroll for these MOOCs?

Both MOOCs will run in an ‘on demand session’ format. Sessions for this course are automatically scheduled every 4 weeks on Monday with an enrollment period of 5 days. The first session began on 29/01/2017. Future sessions will be scheduled automatically.

To enroll, simply visit either or both of the MOOC course pages on the Coursera system and enroll onto each course. New students will be asked to complete the Coursera sign-up process first.

For Part 1, Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in Developing Countries: Understanding Complex Problems, go to:

For Part 2, Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in Developing Countries: Developing Effective Interventions, go to: