Agriculture is a key sector of the Rwandan economy; it contributes approximately 33% to the gross domestic product and employs more than 70% of the entire labour force. Although some farmers are already using water-efficient irrigation infrastructure, too much of the available water is still lost due to unsustainable use of existing irrigation systems, and/or maximum crop yields are not achieved due to under-irrigation.

Hence, small to medium-sized food producers in Rwanda do not have sufficient access to information regarding optimal irrigation practices. To close this information gap, FutureWater has devised an innovation that can calculate a location-specific irrigation advice based on Virtual Weather Stations, expressed in an irrigation duration (“SOSIA”). The use of the outdated CROPWAT 8.0 method, and the lack of good coverage of real-time weather stations in Rwanda, means that current advice falls short. In addition, existing advisory services are often too expensive for the scale on which small to medium-sized farmers produce. There is a potential to increase the productivity of the irrigation water by up to 25%. Initially, the innovation will be disseminated via the Holland Greentech network, with a pilot in Rwanda consisting of 40 customers.

FutureWater has found with Holland Greentech an ideal partner to roll-out this innovation due to their presence in and outside of Rwanda, where they provide irrigation kits and advice. This offers the opportunity to quickly scale-up the proposed innovation. With their expertise in agro-hydrological modeling and the African agricultural sector, FutureWater and Holland Greentech respectively have acquired ample experience to make this innovation project and its knowledge development to a success.

The “Integrated Strategic Water Resources Planning and Management for Rwanda” consultancy project will assess and evaluate the availability and vulnerability of the country’s water resources up to around 2050 taking climate change into consideration.

Based on this, prioritization of investment options in grey and green infrastructure will take place, in order to formulate water resources investment plans. A revised water resources policy will be prepared that is in line with water security targets and SDG 6.

In more detail, the hydrological modelling assessment will result in update water accounts per sub-catchment up to 2050. Field work for assessing groundwater resources in key areas across the country is also performed. A detailed water allocation assessment will be performed using a water resources system model (WEAP), addressing water needs for the various users up to 2050. Water allocation plans will be developed from this modelling work, incorporating stakeholder inputs.

Then, a scenario analysis is performed to evaluate the potential of additional storage in the landscape: grey (reservoirs) and green (through Nature-based Solutions). This analysis will be complemented by field work and a pre-feasibility analysis will be performed on the prioritized options. A SWOT analysis will then lead to a number of possible flagship projects which of which a concept note is prepared.
Support to the revised national policy for water resources management will also be provided by defining new policy statements and actions informed by the results from the previous tasks and developing a new water resources policy that will guide the country towards achieving the NST1 and Vision 2050 targets.

Several catchment plans have been already developed through the Dutch-funded Water for Growth programme. FutureWater played a paramount role in this programme by developing the water allocation models (WEAP) at national level and for several priority catchments. Moreover, FutureWater provided capacity building to local experts and staff on using and further developing and fine-tuning those WEAP models.

The current project aims at developing two catchment plans, for:

  1. Mukungwa catchment
  2. Akagera Lower catchment

These catchments were included in a previous national-level water resources allocation study performed by FutureWater. Four catchments were selected from this national level assessment to make catchment-level WEAP models to inform the catchment plans. A next step for the Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB), is to prepare catchment plans for the above two catchments, for which this project will be instrumental.

For the two catchments, this study aims at (1) providing detailed information on available and renewable water resources, both surface and groundwater, and their spatial and temporal variations; and (2) to map and quantify water uses and water demands, to develop water allocation models that can be used as tools to manage operationally and plan the catchments in a sustainable way. The scenarios (options) assessed can also be essential input into the catchment management plan. This study will produce water allocation models based on current and potential uses in a time-horizon of 30 years.

The project is carried out in collaboration with a team of local experts and one of our partners Dr. Kaan Tuncok as a team leader.

Mukungwa and Akagera Lower catchments

The training aimed at building and enhancing capabilities of the participants in environmental and hydrological monitoring and modeling and was funded by the Orange Knowledge Program of Nuffic. It gave the participants valuable and necessary knowledge on IWRM and it provided the participants with relevant hands-on experience and cutting-edge knowledge on innovative solutions in water allocation modeling and earth observation technologies.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the training was held online using our eLearning platform FutureWater Moodle School. The beauty of this platform is that all online sessions can be recorded and they are still available for the participants to have another look at it. All material (exercises, manuals etc.) developed during the course is also still available on our FutureWater Moodle School. The Rwanda Water Resources Board is recruiting new staff in the future and this new staff will also have access to all material.

Topics covered in the training are:

WEAP:

  • Build a WEAP model from scratch
  • Work with WEAP’ Basic Tools
  • Create and run Scenarios in WEAP
  • Extract water balances from WEAP
  • Generate a hydrological model using WEAP’ Automatic Catchment Delineation Tool

Google Earth Engine:

  • First glance at JavaScript Syntax
  • Explore and visualize Landsat 8 Imagery
  • Create charts with Monthly NDVI Values
  • Use WaPOR for Water Productivity calculations
  • Work with CHIRPS Rainfall data
  • Evaluate the water balance of a catchment

 

At the outlet of the 60 km-long Muhazi Lake there is currently an earth fill dyke which is prone to overtopping or even complete collapse during the wet season. The dyke’s instability causes a potential hazard to inhabitants of the downstream Nyabugogo area, a commercial hub in Kigali town, which threatens lives and properties.

The project consisted of a feasibility and a design phase. For the project, a large number of field- and desktop-tasks were performed. Field-activities included a topographical survey of the project immediate area for design purposes, a detailed mapping of areas around the lake shore sensitive to changes in water level, and a Geotechnical investigation programme due to the complexities related to the peat-soils.

FutureWater conducted a full hydrological assessment of the Lake Muhazi catchment, including the study of flood flows to provide design values, considering climate change, and routing of the lake. Besides, a detailed water resources assessment was performed using WEAP and a study on the operational rule curves, future demands, among others.

Muhazi Lake and dam.

The outputs of this analysis fed directly into the design of the Dyke (serving as a dam): the dimensions and outlet structures, performed by the lead partner (Z&A). Besides the project included a Environmental and Social Impact Assessment

Stakeholders were involved actively during all phases of work and several training and capacity building activities were organized.

In an effort to introduce integrated land and water management within hydrological units (catchments), the Government of Rwanda, through Water for Growth Rwanda, has commenced the development of catchment plans. Water for Growth Rwanda, a platform to promote improved, integrated management of Rwanda’s water resources (IWRM), is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The overall aim of the program is to “effectively manage water resources to contribute to sustainable socio-economic development and equitably improved livelihoods”. Important components of the program are:

  • Research and capacity building on IWRM
  • Implementation of IWRM principles for shared learning in four Demonstration Catchments
  • The development of sustainable integrated water management plans
  • Creation of an IWRM Investment Fund, also open to other financial contributors

FutureWater and eLEAF possess unique expertise and knowledge to undertake such a project. Our approach is client-centered, and the proposed tools are carefully selected based on the ease of use, flexibility towards the availability of data and having a strong focus on future scenario development.

Many Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) planning projects fail as a clear future focus is lacking. By combining local data sets and data obtained from remote sensing in hydrological models, information on crop transpiration, groundwater flows, recharge and runoff can be obtained. WEAP incorporates these values into a practical tool for water resources planning and policy analysis. This results in a more complete knowledge base on water resources availability.

Demonstration catchments of Water for Growth Rwanda
Demonstration catchments of Water for Growth Rwanda.

First, Evapotranspiration (ET), Biomass Production (BP) and Biomass Water Productivity (BWP) maps will be produced for the whole country of Rwanda. After this, the WEAP framework will be used to develop four catchment models for the four demonstration catchments.

Subsequently, the WEAP framework will be used to develop for the entire country a water balance and water allocation tool. This WEAP-R will be used to evaluate various scenarios regarding water allocation. These models will be fed with data based on remote sensing, local data, and global data. The models will be setup for a 10 years’ reference and validation/calibration period (2006-2015) on a monthly base. For scenario analysis the models will be setup for a two 10 years’ period (2020 and 2050).

Lastly, training will be provided on using the four WEAP-C and WEAP-R models. The educational component will be integrated and will focus on enhanced understanding of the water balance and allocation issues.

 

The Nile Basin Decision Support System (NBI-DSS) will provide the necessary knowledge base and analytical tools to support the planning of cooperative joint projects and the management of the shared Nile Basin water resources on an equitable, efficient and sustainable manner. FutureWater was asked to support this NBI-DSS and to undertake preliminary data collection and compilation.

Details

The developed data base has two main components: spatial data and point data. Regarding the spatial data the following data have been made available

  • Land cover
  • Soils
  • Vegetation Indices
  • Precipitation FEWS

These data are available over the entire Nile Basin and include a extensive set of attributes. Data have been quality controlled and is ready to apply in the DSS and can be used for various types of hydrological models.

The point data includes over 20 million records from various sources included global and local data sets. Data are stored in PostGreSQL. The data can be considered as the most complete hydro-meteorological dataset available for the Nile so far.

The countries included in the Nile Equatorial Lake sub-basins face an ever increasing pressure on land and water resources, together with rapid population growth. As a result, food production is one of the main concerns and priorities of policymakers in the area. Irrigation and improved water resources management have the potential to boost agricultural productivity in the area, currently almost entirely rainfed. Irrigated crop yields are much higher than rainfed yields, which means that there is a high potential to increase food production in the area.

FutureWater, in collaboration with WaterWatch, will assess the irrigation potential of seven Nile countries in order to fill gaps in the NBI and member country information based on agricultural use. This study consists of several consecutive steps, in which hydrological modelling, the use of remote sensed data, ArcGIS analyses, consultation workshops and meetings form the core of the project.

The specific objectives of this project are:

  • Determine the irrigation potential of the proposed countries considering the physical resources of ‘soil’ and ‘water’, combined with the irrigation water requirements as determined by the cropping patterns and climate
  • Provide a preliminary assessment of probable environmental and socio-economic constraints to be considered to ensure sustainable use of physical resources within the Nile basin
  • Indicate the required resources for the preparation and investment phase

NEL countries

Maps

The assessment of the Irrigation Potential study resulted in a irrigation suitability map. This map can be downloaded as jpeg or as GeoTIFF. Click on the links below to download the suitable format: