Deltares formalises collaboration with UNHCR to support socially-inclusive planning for refugees

Published: 16 December 2019

Conflict, violence, persecution, and human rights violations led to the forcible displacement of 70.8 million persons worldwide in 2018. Today, the directors of Deltares, with support from the Deltares team on Water, Humanitarian Aid and Migration, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva to formalise our partnership with UNHCR. They also announced the associated Deltares pledge. Deltares aims that no one under any circumstances should have lack of enough and clean water.

Source: UNHCR, June 2019

The Global Refugee Forum

The Global Refugee Forum was guided by the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), which was agreed on in December last year by the UN member states, international organisations, refugees, civil society, the private sector and other experts. The Compact offers a framework for the more predictable and equitable sharing of responsibility for refugee support. It recognises that sustainable solutions depend critically on international cooperation and it also focuses on improving the living conditions of people in refugee camps and improving the integration of displaced people into local economies. The ultimate aim is to further economic self-reliance in the host countries themselves. In return, the international community has pledged support for these countries in the form of knowledge and resources.

This principle – the international sharing of responsibility – must be transformed into concrete action. The Global Refugee Forum (GRF) represents an opportunity to work towards that goal. The Forum was convened at the ministerial level and it brought the international community together to announce bold new measures to:

  • ease pressures on host countries;
  • enhance refugee self-reliance;
  • expand access to third-country solutions; and
  • support the conditions in countries of origin so refugees can return in safety and dignity.


Deltares is co-sponsoring the Energy and Infrastructure global theme as structured by the Global Compact on Refugees. Our pledge  announced at the Global Refugee Forum demonstrates our commitment to providing technical support for the social inclusion of refugees and IDPs as a step towards fulfilling SDG6 and other water-related SDGs:

  • Deltares commits to support the inclusion of refugees and forcibly displaced persons in planning and action for water resources and disaster preparedness, while establishing water security, addressing water-related risks and protecting the environment in and around refugee settlements with the ultimate aim of achieving SDG6 and other water-related SDGs.
  • Deltares commits to support the implementation of resilient and sustainable water resources management, water-related services and integrated solutions that address multiple risks such as conflict, migration, water scarcity, floods and climate change. These solutions should be based on business models that attract investment in fragile contexts while promoting socially-inclusive services for both refugees and host communities.

Left to right; Gerard Blom (Deltares) and Andrew Harper (UNHCR Director of the Division of Program Support and Management) signing the MoU at the GRF in Geneva (photo credits: UNHCR)

Bringing Water Security to Refugee and IDPs settlements

No one should be left behind in terms of access to adequate supplies of safe drinking water, and adequate sanitation and hygiene services. The Deltares pledge targets this goal while keeping natural resources and the need to protect the environment in mind, not only in the settlements for refugees and IDPs, but also by looking for integrated solutions that benefit not only the refugees and IDPs but also the local population and the natural environment.

Deltares aims to add value by making our expertise in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and water-related risks available to the international community, and to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in particular.

Nakivale refugee informal settlement Uganda (photo credits: Alessia Matano)

Water and Societal Stability programme

Deltares has established a Water and Social Stability programme to provide the technical support and knowledge needed to understand the role of water and climate in forced displacements and the assessment of possible interventions. Our ultimate aim is to help donors to include refugees and forcibly displaced people in access to innovative financing. We will also assist member states in the development of blended finance streams.

Sharing is caring

At the Global Refugee Forum, Deltares presented a project conducted with UNHCR and the Ministry of Water and Environment in Uganda as a practical example. The primary focus of the project is on helping with the selection of locations for accommodating new refugees, while bearing in mind the feasible capacity of the area in terms of water resources and water security from an IWRM perspective. It is our intention to develop strong partnerships with UNHCR and other UN agencies, member states, donors, other private sector organisations and NGOs in order to work with refugees and IDPs to achieve our commitments and, ultimately, to leave no one behind.

Sustainable side selection for accomodating new refugees in Uganda (photo credits: Alessia Mantano)