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Unit information: Hydrological Engineering for Developing Countries in 2018/19

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Unit name Hydrological Engineering for Developing Countries
Unit code CENGM0056
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Rosolem
Open unit status Not open

CENG31600 – Water Resources Project 3

CENG21300 – Hydraulics 2



School/department Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


Aims: Water security is a key societal need in the developing world. In most of the developing world, overall precipitation amounts are low while precipitation variability is high, causing low security in water supply. Simultaneously, precipitation intensities are high during rainy seasons which often causes significant flooding. However, typically used approaches to estimating hydrologic design values, such as those needed to design reservoirs for water supply and levees for flood protection, rely on extensive observations of streamflow. Such methods are unsuitable for hydrologic engineering in the developing world. This course introduces to and trains students in the use of methods for hydrologic predictions in ungauged basins, including the use of remotely sensed data, to estimate design variables for use in data poor regions of the world.

Context: Human impacts on the hydrologic cycle continues to rise as a result of increased demands for energy, water, food, and living space from a growing population. Such impacts are visible, for instance, in changing patterns of floods and droughts due to human-induced climate change, in shrinking aquifer storages resulting from excessive pumping of groundwater, in significantly distorted river flow regimes due to the building of dams and through agricultural abstractions, and in altered groundwater recharge due to changes in land use through urbanization and deforestation. Despite their global implications, the most affected regions are expected to be in the developing countries, where current access to resources and adaptation/mitigation strategies for such hazards are incomplete in comparison to those from developed countries. Therefore, the role of engineers in such context has never been so important to ensure sustainability of natural resources under a rapidly changing world. However, one of the key issues all engineers face while working in the developing world is the scarcity or complete lack of supporting observations which are pivotal for hydrologic prediction. For this reason, engineers need to be creative and innovative to transfer their knowledge and understanding of hydrology from data-rich basins to regions where observations are not available. The recent development of remotely-sensed Earth Observation products has certainly helped engineers to overcome some of these limitations, but a clear understanding of hydrologic processes and their interactions with humans still rely on hydrologic analysis from comparison with regions where basin-scale observations are available.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Identification of dominant hydrologic processes according to key basin/catchment characteristics
  • Demonstrate awareness of how anthropogenic impacts ultimately alter the engineering hydrology in the developing world (e.g., hydrological designs)
  • Demonstrate awareness of key international initiatives and frameworks design to address sustainability of water resources and adaptation/mitigation strategies (focusing on developing countries)
  • Recognition of the complexity for hydrologic prediction in ungauged basins located mainly in developing countries
  • Demonstrate awareness of a wide variety of global datasets (and their quality) that can be potentially used in regions where observations are scarce or inexistent
  • Recognition and identification of hydrologic signatures from data-rich regions that can be transferable to data-poor regions in developing countries for hydrological engineering applications

Teaching details

Lectures (22 hours) with example/practical material and guided reading also provided.

Assessment Details

100% Examination

Reading and References

  • Runoff Prediction in Ungauged Basins: Synthesis across Processes, Places and Scales, Edited by Günter Blöschl, Murugesu Sivapalan, Thorsten Wagener, Alberto Viglione,and Hubert Savenije, Cambridge University Press, 2013, 465 pp., ISBN: 978-1107028180
  • Falkenmark, M., and T. Chapman (1989), Comparative hydrology: An ecological approach to land and water resources. Unesco, 491 pp., ISBN 9231025716
  • Ven Te Chow et al. (1988). Applied Hydrology. McGraw-Hill.