Over the last decades, efficient water resources management has been an important element of EU’s water policies, a topic that is addressed with renewed attention in the revised 2021 EU Adaptation Strategy, which lists the need for a knowledge-based approach towards water-saving technologies and instruments such as efficient water resources allocation. The IPCC special report on oceans and the cryosphere in a changing climate (2019) highlights the combination of water governance and climate risks as potential reasons for tension over scarce water resources within and across borders, notably competing demands between hydropower and irrigation, in transboundary glacier- and snow-fed river basins in Central Asia.

WE-ACT’s innovative approach consists of two complementary innovation actions: the first is the development of a data chain for a reliable water information system, which in turn enables the second, namely design and roll-out of a decision support system for water allocation. The data chain for the reliable water information system consists of real-time in-situ hydrometeorological and glaciological monitoring technology, modelling of the water system (including water supply and demand modelling and water footprint assessments) and glacier mass balance, data warehouse technology and machine learning. The roll-out of the DSS for climate-risk informed water allocation consists of stakeholder and institutional analyses, water valuation methods, the setup of the water information system to allow for a user-friendly interface, development of water allocation use cases, and feedback on water use through national policy dialogues.

The work of FutureWater within the WE-ACT study will focus on estimating the water demand and water footprints of the different users and activities within the Syr Darya river basin. Therefore, the effects of water allocation on water footprints, unmet water demand and environmental flow violations will be evaluated using a set of hydrological models such as SPHY and Water Allocation models (WEAP). This will be done for both the status quo and future scenarios.

Eswatini’s development is at risk by natural drought hazards. Persistent drought is exacerbating the country’s existing challenges of food security and the ability to attain sustainable development. Therefore, FutureWater, Hydrologic, and Emanti Management joined forces to bring together technologies and complementary expertise to implement the GLOW service which includes: short-term and seasonal forecasts of water availability and demand, an alerting service when forecasted water demand is higher than water availability, and water distribution advisories to reduce impact and maximise water security for all water users.

The GLOW service will be piloted in the Maputo River and Mbuluzi River Basins where three-quarters of the population of Eswatini lives, which includes the Hawane dam that supplies water to Mbabane (Capital City of Eswatini) and which is the major water supply source for Maputo, a Delta city (1 million inhabitants) which suffers from water shortages. The main beneficiaries of this project are the Joint River Basin Authority (JBRAS-PB) and the 5 River Basin authorities, AraSul (Mozambique) and the Department of Water and Sanitation (South Africa).

The innovation of GLOW is bringing together proven and award-winning technologies of advanced earth observation, open data, high-performance computing, data-driven modelling, data science, machine learning, operations research, and stakeholder interaction. These technologies require minimum ground truth information, which makes them very scalable and applicable in poorly monitored environments throughout the world. The coherent combination of the technologies into one decision support service ensures the optimum division of water, basically distributing every drop of water to meet the demands of all interests present in large river catchments.

Currently, farmers rely on weather forecasts and advisories that are either general for a given, often wide, region of interest, or highly customized to the farmers’ needs (e.g. by combining large scale atmospheric variables into synthetic parameters of interest). In both cases, such forecasts and advisories often don’t rely at all on observations collected at or around the target cultivated areas, or they are limited to traditional observations provided only by weather stations, without exploiting the full extent of measurements and observations available through European space-based assets (e.g. Galileo GNSS, Copernicus Sentinels) and ground-based radar data.

MAGDA objectives go beyond the state-of-the-art by aiming at developing a modular system that can be deployed by owners of large farms directly at their premises, continuously feeding observations to dedicated and tailored weather forecast and hydrological models, with results displayed by a dashboard and/or within a Farm Management System.

FutureWater is leading the irrigation advisory service of MAGDA, making use of hydrological modelling using SPHY (Spatial Processes in Hydrology). The output expected consists of an operational irrigation service to provide advice on when and how much to irrigate at certain moments during the cropping season, using as input data improved weather forecasts.

During this task, the SPHY water balance model will be setup for three selected demonstrator farms in Romania, France and Italy. Finally, the irrigation advisory will be validated using performance indicators (e.g., water productivity, crop yield analysis, water use efficiency) using ground truth data (e.g., weather stations, moisture probes, crop biomass measurements)

The Mekong River and its tributaries are critical waterways that support the economy and food supply chains of both Cambodia and Lao PDR. However, these waterways also present a significant risk. Flooding and drought events are becoming increasingly erratic, longer, and more intense as a result of the compounding effects of anthropogenic climate change. In support of the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in the Mekong River basin, appropriate data collection, integrated management of data and proper analysis are crucial as a basis for decision-making and policy development. There have been numerous efforts in data collection, analysis, and monitoring by relevant key stakeholders such as MRC, MoWRAM, NCDM and other development partners. Those systems have been developed to track climate information, provide basic data for risk-informed technical planning at the national and local level. However, data availability and the ability to contextualize information at local level remain a big challenge for Cambodia, which leads to the persistence of misinformation and misunderstanding of risks associated with living near the Mekong River and its tributaries.

In 2021, UNDP received funding from Ministry of Environment the Government of Republic of Korea for the project “Enhancing Integrated Water Management and Climate Resilience in Vulnerable Urban Areas of the Mekong River Basin”. This project looks to address gaps in data collection management and analysis, enhance institutional and technical capacity at the subnational level for integrated climate and flood risk management, enhance availability of resources for investment in water-related risk reduction, and aid the flow of risk knowledge and coordination across the borders of Cambodia and Lao PDR. Key outputs include (i) technical studies on flood propagation models, hydrometeorological disasters forecasting models, capacity assessment, and improvement of risk monitoring systems and early warning system (EWS), (ii) capacity building design for climate change risk assessments, and hazard/vulnerability mapping using open source software, and (iii) design and piloting of disaster risk management initiatives at the community level.

FutureWater was hired by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Cambodia to provide strategic and technical support to the successful delivery of Mekong urban resilience project on its current and further initiatives to promote climate risk informed integrated water resource management in the target 3S and 4P river basins in Cambodia. This includes a close collaboration with the project team to design project intervention strategies through building alignment with existing efforts and ensuringe that the project is part of a bigger system of disaster risks informed water resources management in the target river basins.

With over 1,850 km of 500kV lines, 6,200 km of 220kV lines and 15,300 km of 110kV lines, the power transmission system in Uzbekistan is facing challenges with respect to deteriorating infrastructure and unreliable power supply. To address these issues, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is assisting the Government of Uzbekistan through the “Uzbekistan Power Transmission Improvement Project” which aims to: i) improve the power transmission network capacity and reliability in the northwest region of the country, ii) reduce transmission losses, and iii) improve the operational efficiency of the power sector. This will be done through the i) construction of a new 220kV single-circuit overhead transmission line spanning over 364 km, ii) expansion, rehabilitation, and construction of 3 substations and iii) capacity building and institutional development.

Additionally, given the growing impacts of climate change in the region, FutureWater has been assigned to carry out a climate risk and adaptation assessment for 12 transmission lines and 2 substations in the country. FutureWater will make use of state-of-the-art downscaled Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) ensembles, and other relevant hazards and local information to develop this CRA. The insights from this assessment will enable ADB to justify climate financing for further enhancing the climate resilience of the grid system. Moreover, through the adoption of climate-resilient technologies and adaptation measures based on the climate risk assessment, the country will be able to cut down on their GHG emissions and ensure uninterrupted power supply in light of a changing climate. This will be complimented by deriving adaptation costs to justify the need for climate financing. In addition, FutureWater will also be reviewing the existing meteorological monitoring network and recommending additional potential monitoring sites for improved surveillance in the country.

Uzbekistan is highly sensitive to climate change which will cause changes in the water flows and distribution: water availability, use, reuse and return flows will be altered in many ways due to upstream changes in the high mountain regions, but also changes in water demand and use across the river basin. The resulting changes in intra-annual and seasonal variability will affect water security of Uzbekistan. Besides, climate change will increase extreme events which pose a risk to existing water resources infrastructure. An integrated climate adaptation approach is required to make the water resources system and the water users, including the environment, climate resilient.

This project will support the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) of Uzbekistan in identifying key priorities for climate adaptation in the Amu Darya river basin and support the identification of investment areas within Amu Darya river basin. The work will be based on a basin-wide climate change risk assessment as well as on the government priorities with an explicit focus on reducing systemic vulnerability to climate change.

The project will undertake:

  • Climate change risk analysis and mapping on key water-related sectors, impacts on rural livelihoods, and critical water infrastructures.
  • Climate change adaptation strategic planning and identify barriers in scaling up adaptation measures at multiple scales with stakeholder consultation and capacity building approach.
  • Identification of priority measures and portfolios for integration into subproject development as well as for future adaptation investment in the Amu Darya river basin. The identification will cover shortlisting of potential investments, screening of economic feasibility, and potential funding opportunities.

FutureWater leads this assignment and develops the climate risk hotspot analysis, and coordinates the contribution of international and national experts, as well as the stakeholder consultation process.

To facilitate the needs of ZIPAK, this training aims to build data-driven capacities relevant to sustainable nature conservation practices and ecosystem-based natural resources management in Iran:

  • Leveraging the Climate Change Knowledge Portal (CCKP) for performing climate risk and vulnerability assessments
  • Leveraging the online dashboard Earth Map for environmental hazard mapping and socio-economic risk assessments
  • Applying the InVest model (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs) for assessing ecosystem service provision

The training focuses on knowledge and skills development and how how to meaningfully integrate these capabilities into ZIPAK’s objectives on sustainable management of the environment and natural resources.

Pakistan is ranked as the 8th most climate vulnerable country in the world as per the Global Climate Risk Index (2019) and in recent years has been facing the worst brunt of climate change. Irregular and intense precipitation, heatwaves, droughts, and floods have severely impacted the agriculture and water sector. Approximately, 90% of the country’s freshwater resources are utilized by the agricultural sector. However, lack of information services makes it a challenge to implement a water accounting system for improved water resources management.

The GCF funded project titled “Transforming the Indus Basin with Climate Resilient Agriculture and Water Management” aims to shift agriculture and water management to a new paradigm in which processes are effectively adapting to climate change and are able to sustain livelihoods. FAO Pakistan, as per the request of the Ministry of Climate Change, has designed the project to develop the country’s capacity to enhance the resilience of the agricultural and water sector. There are three major components:

1. Enhancing information services for climate change adaptation in the water and agriculture sectors
2. Building on-farm resilience to climate change
3. Creating an enabling environment for continued transformation

FutureWater will be actively involved in Component 1 which focuses on facilitating the development of a water accounting system and improving the availability and use of information services. Given the limited data availability in the region, FutureWater will integrate the use of remote sensing technologies within the existing Water Accounting methodology to address this gap. A capacity and needs assessment will be conducted and a series of tailor-made trainings will be designed subsequently to enable key government stakeholders to use open-source geospatial analysis tools as well as models to estimate real water savings, particularly in the context of agriculture. The trainings will help build the country’s capacity to implement water accounting at different spatiotemporal scales and cope with the worsening impacts of climate change.

The Lunyangwa Dam is the source of water supply for Mzuzu City, Ekwendi Town and surrounding areas. Currently, the yield of the dam is lower than the annual average daily water demand from the dam. A quick intervention for this problem is to raise the spillway of the Lunyangwe Dam.

In order to determine the height of the redesigned spillway, FutureWater conducted a hydrological study for the Lunyangwa Dam Catchment to determine flood extremes for several return periods. HEC-HMS was used for calculating the peak volumes and discharges. The input for the HEC-HMS model was retrieved using satellite-based datasets for rainfall and terrain. Furthermore, the flood routing was simulated with an elevation-storage curve. The output of this study will be used for the redesign of the spillway.

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. Aside from further refining the SOSIA tool, upscaling strategies will be explored in this second phase to identify other intermediaries that could benefit from the SOSIA service so to realize its optimal impact.

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 tools can be accessed through online URLs for the Virtual Weather Stations and for the Irrigation Advisory Tool.