Project properties

Title (Waste) water and health
Group Water Systems and Global Change
Project type thesis
Credits 36
Supervisor(s) Nynke Hofstra (
Nancy Mondragon (
Daniel Okaali (
Examiner(s) Carolien Kroeze
Contact info Mengru Wang (
Maria del Pozo (
Begin date 2021/03/01
End date
Description Theme introduction

Diarrhoea is still one of the main causes of death, particularly in children in developing countries. This diarrhoea is often caused by waterborne pathogens that infect people due to lack of access to proper drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. Diarrhoea and other water-related diseases are important to study further. For anyone with an interest in the link between (microbial) water quality and health, or disease in relation to water or climate change or other global changes, we are usually well able to come up with an MSc thesis topic, so do feel free to get in touch.

Projects and possibilities for students

Projects can be related to a varied number of topics and can be flexible, depending on the students´┐Ż interest. They can include modelling and literature review, but also incorporate interviews with relevant stakeholders etc. Specific relevant projects available right now are:

- Microbial water quality models can help understand the main drivers of the disease risks and evaluate options for improvement, such as sanitation improvements or agricultural management. We are looking to expand our current model for other pathogens and evaluate how their concentrations can change in the future.
- Different parts of the microbial water quality models can be expanded. For example, the relevance of reuse of wastewater or sludge for the microbial water quality needs to be evaluated.
- Microbial water quality models can be developed at different spatial scales. With Rijkswaterstaat we look for opportunities to develop a model for the Spiegelwaal near Nijmegen to optimise recreation and ecology in the Spiegelwaal. Additionally, we develop models for floods in Mexico city and for health risk in Kampala. Students can contribute to these projects.
- The health risk is directly related to the concentration of the water the population ingest. We have done first studies to evaluate the health risk. We are looking for students to expand the currently available analyses for the world and for other exposure pathways, such as consuming irrigated fresh produce or swimming.
- Groundwater is one of the transmission pathways for pathogens. However, very few studies exist that model pathogenic groundwater quality. Students with a strong background in hydraulics could help develop a model for movement of pathogens in groundwater in a real situation (collaboration with Inge de Graaf).
- The Pathogen Flow and Mapping Tool has been developed gobally and with stakeholders in Kampala. I want to develop this tool at a high resolution for other areas/cities in the world. The tool can be used in sanitation analyses with stakeholders. Finally, I want to evaluate how stakeholders perceive the usefulness of the tool. (

Used skills Possible methods used in a thesis:
- Model conceptualization & development
- Indicator development & analysis
- Sensitivity analysis
- Scenario analysis
- Data processing & analysis
- Case study analysis
- Systematic literature review
- Policy document analysis
- Mixed methods