Department of Environmental Health Sciences



Environmental Health Sanitation

Since prehistoric times, human beings have been accustomed to follow certain sanitary practices. There is ample evidence that the people who lived in caves used to clean their shelters and dispose of their waste. Relics of old water supplies and sewerage systems which have been uncovered in ancient Babylonia, Egypt, Athens and Rome are evidences of the role that sanitation played in the golden ages of these regions.

Environment can be defined as the sum of all external influences and conditions which affects life and growth of an organism. The report of the first session of the World Health Organization (WHO) expert committee on Environmental Sanitation (1950) defined “Environmental Sanitation” as the control of all those factors in man‘s physical environment which exercise or may exercise a deleterious effect on his physical, mental, social development, and survival. It refers to:

  • Promoting healthy practices
  • Methods of the disposal of excreta, sewage and community wastes to ensure they are adequate and safe
  • Water supplies, to ensure that they are safe, wholesome , adequate and convenient to the consumers
  • Housing , to ensure that it:

o   Does not provide opportunities for the transmission of diseases especially respiratory infection.

o   Encourages healthful habits in the occupants

  • Milk and other food supplies, to ensure that they are safe and not adulterated
  • Personal habit of cleanliness are good public taste in relation to disease
  • Control of arthropod, rodents, mollusks, or other alternative hosts of human diseases
  • Atmospheric conditions, to ensure that the external atmosphere is free from deleterious elements and that the internal conditions of work places, houses, etc., are suitable for the occupations undergoing in them.

Factories, workshops, streets, and the general environment, to ensure freedom from risk to health whether Physical, mechanical, chemical, ergonomic or biological and to provide the best working and living conditions.

Since the 1970s, the term “Environmental Sanitation” has been replaced by the term “Environmental Health” and is widely used as such and covers all aspects of our relationship (interaction) with our environmental, social as well as physical.

The field of environmental health encompasses several public health intervention programs of paramount importance centred at the control of physical, chemical, biological and/or mechanical agents of diseases that affect human health and welfare. It is a recognized fact that the quality of life is directly related to the quality of the environment. This is so because the quality of life or positive health depends on the safety and good quality of the life support systems (Geographical, energy, biological, and social).

A quick survey of records of the health status and disease pattern of last three decades in Ethiopia reveal that poor environmental health conditions have been and still are the important contributing factors for the prevailing poor health status of the large majority of the population in the country.

Historical Review of Environmental Health Personnel Training in Ethiopia

Human resource development through tertiary level education is a prerequisite for a successful social and economic development to take place. To achieve this objective, revitalization the tertiary education is one of the main components of educational sector development plan. Organized sanitary inspectors training in Ethiopia can be traced to around 1942 when the New Ethiopian government was re-established after the 1941 victory of the Italian invasion. After the liberation, a medical directorate was established in 1942 under the Ministry of Interior for carrying out medical and health services in the country. Available records indicate that there was no Ethiopia personnel trained in the field of environmental sanitation during that time, hence, the directorate appointed a Sudanese health inspector to handle matters pertaining to environmental sanitation.

In order to overcome lack of environmental health professionals, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) which was then assisting the country during the first phase of reconstruction initiated the first organized training of sanitary personnel in 1946. Details of the training of sanitary inspectors during that period were well documented by Messinezy, Medical Officer, of WHO (1952). Under this program the first class of 15 students completed their course in December 1946. Unfortunately, the sanitary inspector‘s training was discontinued during 1947-1949 due to withdrawal of external assistance for the program. Nevertheless, some Ethiopians continued the training abroad because some fellowships have been obtained that was awarded by WHO. Therefore, three young men were sent to the school of Hygiene, Mbale, Uganda in 1950. Another three were also sent to the American University of Beirut, Lebanon in 1952.

The training of sanitarians in a diploma program resumed in 1956 in Ethiopia. The duration of the course was one-year theory and practice in the college and one-year internship period with the other team members in rural Training Health Center. Until 1964, the candidates were recruited after completion of eighth grade. After 1964, the entrance requirement was raised to the completion of 10th grade and the training was extended to three years. Average enrollment was around 30 students per year. The entrance requirement was further trained to a completion of 12th grade since 1978.

From 1956 up to 1987/88, Gondar was the only School for the training of Sanitarians in the country. However, in 1988, another environmental health school was opened at diploma level in Jimma (Jimma Health Science College). Based on the current and anticipated environmental related health problems in the country, the professional training in the field was further upgraded to a post Basic degree level since 1984.

Historical Review of Environmental Health Personnel Training in Haramaya University

As an early established higher institution, Haramaya University has gained a high reputation in its contribution to innovation and extension of technologies and development of various professional. Later the university expanded its programs vastly, which includes programs delivered under college of medical and health sciences.  During its 16 years journey for effective training, research, and health services the college has contributed much in satisfying country human resources demands. However, a lot remains to catch the dynamic needs of experts in some areas and the department of Environmental health has responded to the pressing societies need.

In 1998 Haramaya University started training Environmental Health Professionals with diploma level. Later in 2004 the training of environmental health upgraded to a bachelor degree level and the department of Environmental Health has trained and awarded around 420 environmental health professionals who fill the different gaps of the health sector in the country.

Considering this, one can say the university has made immense contribution to the training of middle and high level health professionals and betterment of health service in Ethiopia. Environmental health department has been one of the active departments involved in education, research and community service. International and national policy guide lines and its internal dynamist’s vigor to develop a postgraduate training program on “Master of Science in Water supply and Sanitation Management.

Continuing its endeavor to meet the developmental needs of Ethiopia by producing a critical mass of skilled professionals, the department has launched a master’s program in Water Supply and Sanitation management in 2013.



On behalf of Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Haramaya University, I would like to greet you for your interest. As you are probably aware, this university is one of the nation’s oldest and leading training and research institution. The College of Health and Medical Sciences is among those colleges which were opened at expanding time of the university and Department of Environmental Health Science is one of the pioneer departments in this college.

Over the years, we have built a strong reputation in producing qualified environmental health professionals and undertaking problem solving researches. Our approach to learning and research make our programs an excellent gateway into the field of Environmental as well as Public Health.

We are committed to the education and training of Environmental health professionals. Our academic programs prepare Environmental health researchers and practitioners for the constantly evolving and emerging Environmental health challenges. We are contributing qualified professionals for “prevention lead health policy” of the country.

The Department of Environmental Health Sciences has a good experience of professional practice, training and research. We welcome you to use this website, or contact us, to find out more about how you can be a part of it.

We think you also share the idea that “Prevention is always better that curing”, so we would like to call up on your cooperation (in any aspect you can) in creating an Environment which is safe to the public and as well for all living things.


Undergraduate Program

Bachelor degree four years program in “Environmental Health Science”

Postgraduate Program

Masters degree two years program in “Water Supply and Sanitation Management”


“To create internationally recognized school which safeguards community’s health and as well the environment.”


“We will work hard with all national and international stakeholders in safeguarding the community’s health and the environment by producing competent professionals.”


  1. By the half of 2015, create link with all related stakeholders nationally and internationally
  2. By the end of 2015, we will start to produce professionals highly competent with knowledge, attitude and practice.


  1. To produce qualified professionals in the field of Environmental health
  2. To identify and contact all related stakeholders nationally and internationally
  3. To work with all stakeholders in improving the quality of the education we provide


For the Undergraduate program

Candidates to be admitted to the Bachelor’s degree program in Environmental health Science should fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Candidates must meet the government educational policy regarding higher education criteria for acceptance i.e.  Preparatory completed or equivalent.
  2. Advance standing students who have graduated with diploma in Environmental Health from recognized universities or regional colleges and holding certificates justifying for preparatory completed or equivalent.
  3. Candidates who fulfill the basic requirements stipulated as above must pass entrance exam and interview set by the University.

For the Postgraduate program

For admission to the program the candidate must have a bachelor degree in Environmental Health Science; Civil Engineering, Sanitary Engineering, Water resource Engineering, Environmental Science, Environmental Technology, Environmental Engineering, Hydraulics, Chemical Engineering, Urban engineering, Occupational Health, Industrial engineering, Urban Planning, Chemistry, and other related fields with a minimum GPA 2.0 out of 4 or an equivalent from any recognized institution. Entrance exam must be passes at least with 50% scoring commenced in written format.

Applicants will be accepted by the department of environmental health based on the recommendation forwarded by the Haramaya University School of Graduate Studies guideline.  It is up to the applicant to prove financial requirements otherwise need to be government sponsored.


For the Undergraduate program

  • Must have completed all courses of the program
  • CGPA of at least 2.00
  • No ‘F’ grade in any of the courses taken
  • Pass Qualifying Examinations with minimum of 60% in each: At least 42/70 marks (internal (70%)) and at least 18/30 marks (external (30%)) graded as  P/F

 For the Postgraduate program

The student must take a maximum of 37 credit hours including thesis work. Only 1 C will be tolerated with a CGPA of 3.00. The thesis shall be defended with the presence of internal and external juries. If not passed, the student will be allowed only for one time to repeat the defense otherwise will repeat the thesis work. Other university requirements for graduate programs will be maintained.

Contact Address

Binyam Negussie (BSC, MPH)

Lecturer and Head, Department of Environmental Health

Phone: +251 256661866