Welcome to the MIT Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) web portal on water and sanitation projects in developing countries. Over the past eleven years, students, staff, and faculty have been working on issues of water and sanitation in developing countries, primarily through the Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) Degree program offered in the CEE Department. This website contains information and links to student theses, project reports, photos, WHO Household Treatment Network, and other useful resources focused on the development and improvement of water and sanitation in many countries.
The 9-month M.Eng. program is intended primarily for students planning to enter or re-enter professional practice; however, a few students continue for additional studies, including their Ph.D. The program involves coursework, group project work and a thesis. For students in the environmental engineering tract, the thesis is typically based on project work completed in the field during January.
The global community faces a tough challenge: to halve the number of people without access to improved water supply and sanitation by the year 2015. This bold objective, also known as one of the Millennium Development Goals, was again committed to by governments from around the world during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg South Africa. UNICEF and the World Health Organization estimate that 884 million people lack access to improved drinking water supplies and 2.5 billion lack access to improved sanitation facilities, including 1.2 billion peole who have no sanitation facility whatsoever - click here for more information. Considering the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation, this works out to delivering improved water supply at a rate of ~100,000 people per day and improved sanitation facilities at ~200,000 people per day between the years 2000 and 2015. Can governments alone realistically meet these ambitious goals by the year 2015 through conventional centralized water supply and sanitation systems?
New approaches to delivering water and sanitation services, such as household water treatment, are gaining recognition within international development organizations. The World Health Organization, for example, recently published a report on Combatting Waterborne Disease at the Household Level and UNICEF sponsored an online virtual forum on Household Water Security in cooperation with WHO and the Network for Cost-effective Technologies in Water Supply and Sanitation. A recent statement issued by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural, and Social Rights goes one step further by declaring water as a human right, which, taken into the context of the Millennium Development Goals, puts pressure on governments to live up to their commitment to halve the number of people without access to improved water supply and sanitation services by the year 2015.