The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a UNESCO-declared Biosphere Reserve, is an isolated mountain complex encompassing approximately 17,000 km², set apart from the Andes chain that runs through Colombia. The Sierra Nevada has the world’s highest coastal peak (5,775 m above sea level) just 42 kilometres from the Caribbean coast. The Sierra Nevada is the source of 36 basins, making it the major regional ‘water factory’ supplying 1.5 million inhabitants as well as vast farming areas in the surrounding plains used mainly for the cultivation of banana and oil palm. The main problems to be solved in these basins are: i) Declining availability of water for irrigation, ii) Declining availability and quality of water for human consumption, iii) Increasing salinization of ground water and soils, iv) Increasing incidence of floods.

This is a feasibility study on the adoption of more efficient irrigation techniques by oil palm farmers in the Sevilla basin (713 km²), one of the key basins in the Sierra Nevada. The general objective is to identify the local environment at basin scale, the limiting factors and suitable field interventions in oil palm areas to improve the water use. A preparation and implementation phase was developed including an initial baseline assessment of the basin on climate, water availability, drought hazard, soil characteristics, land use, and topography. The agronomy (e.g. cultivars) and current field practices (e.g. nutrient management and irrigation practices) of the oil palm areas were characterized, and the crop water requirements determined. In addition, costs and benefits associated to the implementation of efficient irrigation technologies such as fertigation and water harvesting were assessed. Potential locations, risks and opportunities for water harvesting were evaluated with the idea to store water in the wet season to be able to use the resource in an efficient way in the dry season. A range of GIS and satellite-based datasets (e.g. CHIRPS, MODIS-ET, MODIS-NDVI, HiHydroSoil) were used to evaluate the environmental conditions, and local data and information was provided by local partners Cenipalma and Solidaridad to generate a comprehensive assessment at basin and field scale. The expectation is that fertigation and water harvesting techniques can be adopted in the Sevilla basin, but also in other basins in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to reduce the environmental impact of oil palm production.

This month, FutureWater has published an article in the International Water Power & Dam Construction Magazine focusing on the business case for small hydropower (small facilities without significant storage dams) to invest in catchment protection based hydropower. The hydropower sector is showing increasing interest in revenue sharing schemes that promote improved catchment protection activities. 

The article is based on two case studies in Kenya and Tanzania where FutureWater assessed the impacts of various investment portfolios for catchment management activities on the cost-benefits of small hydropower schemes and analyzed the return-on-investment for the hydropower developers. Modeling and satellite data analysis were used, considering climate change and land degradation impacts among others, as input for the return-on-investment analysis.

Interested in the article? Download it here!

The Asian Development Bank supports Tajikistan in achieving increased climate resilience and food security through investments in modernization of Irrigation and Drainage (I&D) projects. A Technical Assistance is preparing modernization projects for two I&D systems in the Lower Vaksh river basin in Tajikistan. In line with this, the TA will prepare a holistic feasibility study and project design for the system (38,000 ha), as well as advanced designs and bidding documents for selected works.

FutureWater is part of the team of international experts, working together with the local consultant on the climate risk and adaptation assessment that accompanies the feasibility projects. For this purpose, past climate trends will be analyzed, climate model projections processed, and a climate impact model will be used to assess how the project performs under a wide range of future conditions, to assess the robustness of the proposed I&D investments, and identify possible climate adaptation measures.

The Ministry of Water and Environment in Bolivia has asked the Dutch Government for support in relation to the drought issues they face. Last week, a team consisting of team leader Otto de Keizer (Deltares) and Johannes Hunink (FutureWater) left for Bolivia. As a result of El Niño, the country is struggling with a long and extreme drought period, which in November 2016 led to an acute water shortage in the capital La Paz and other areas of the country.

The Dutch government together with the Dutch water sector founded the Dutch Risk Reduction Team (DRR-Team). With the DRR instrument the Netherlands is able to cover the entire disaster management cycle from mitigation, preparedness and response to recovery.

To address the drought problem in Bolivia, the DRR-Team has been asked to provide recommendations on drought early warning and drought information systems, both on technical aspects as well as on institutional issues. The team has held talks with the Ministry of Environment and Water, the La Paz and Potosí drinking water companies, and the municipality of La Paz. In addition, they also consulted with SENAMHI: the National Hydrometeorological Institute. The DRR-Team drew up with a team of experts of the World Bank that supports Bolivia with several necessary investments to reduce vulnerability to drought.

The project should increase agricultural water use productivity in the selected agricultural districts in Uzbekistan through a threefold approach: (i) climate resilient and modernized I&D infrastructure to improve measurement, control and conveyance within existing systems; (ii) enhanced and reliable onfarm water management including capacity building of water consumers’ associations (WCAs), physical improvements for land and water management at the farm level and application of high level technologies for increased water productivity; and (iii) policy and institutional strengthening for sustainable water resources management. This will include strategic support to the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) and its provincial, basin and district agencies.

The project supports the Strategy of Actions on Further Development of Uzbekistan (2017), which includes: (i) introduction of water saving technologies and measures to mitigate the negative impact of climate change and drying of the Aral Sea; (ii) further improvement of irrigated lands and reclamation and irrigation facilities; and (iii) modernization of agriculture by educating areas of cotton and cereal crops to expand horticulture production.

FutureWater focuses on the climate risk and adaptation assessment that accompanies the feasibility projects, and will analyze climate trends, climate model projections, climate impacts on the projects and assess adaptation options.

Watch the video below to learn more about the management of Climate Adaptive Water Resources in the Aral Sea Basin in Uzbekistan (source: ADB)

Achieving water security and guaranteeing the sustainable use of water resources require series of investments at the catchment scale. Yet, competing water uses pose an initial layer of complexity about the type of intervention a catchment requires. Additionally, the nature of climatic and no-climatic uncertainties, threatening possible investments, leave decision makers with insufficient knowledge about the performance of chosen intervention options in a changing world. So, decision makers require novel tools which would facilitate the description and communication of key metrics in an uncertain future.

This project studies the sensitivity of the multipurpose Chancay-Lambayeque Basin water resources hydraulic system (Peru) to changes in climatic and no-climatic forces. A series of proposed interventions to enhance the current hydraulic system look to satisfy water supply to ~400,000 people, guarantee water for increasing irrigation activities, and maintain ecological flows, while providing protection for El Niño-driven floods.

The assessment was carried out using the DMDU deiven Decision Tree Framework (DTF, Ray and Brown,2015). This is a bottom-up and two-step approach which, in this project, examined the performance of economic, resilience, robustness, and reliability metrics of selected interventions such as the construction of new reservoirs, the expansion of groundwater development, and the conservation and generation of green-infrastructure, subjected to various climate realizations. Also, the effects of changes in urban water supply and irrigation demands, siltation in existing reservoirs, and other non-climatic parameters and trade-offs were analyzed. The results of this study highlight the potential (while acknowledging limitations) of DMDU tools to prioritize investments in river catchment planning while engaging local stakeholders in decision making.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is committed to supporting the Uzbekistan Government’s integrated rural economic development initiative that can revitalize the rural economy and help build modern infrastructure and government services in the rural areas. ADB has included targeted programs to provide modern and highly efficient rural infrastructure for power distribution. On these projects, ADB will support the Government’s initiative by means of a result-based lending (RBL) program. One of the key envisioned outputs of the program is to modernize and augment the electricity distribution system. The goal is to start in three provinces: Bukhara, Samarkand and Jizzakh. The proposed project will help Uzbekistan address high technical losses in the power distribution system and improve the electricity supply reliability in the remote areas.

Electricity Transmission and Distribution (T&D) projects are sensitive to climate conditions. Temperature, wind and other variables are typically integrated and considered in the design, as also for this particular project. Thus, changes in these variables due to climate change may affect the performance of the system. Based on these sensitivities, an analysis of climate change projections in the project area (three provinces) was performed, focusing on climate means & extremes (temperature and rainfall) and wind speed trends based on reanalysis (historic) datasets. Overall, the climate model analysis yields following conclusions for the project area:

  • Temperature increases by about 2.1 °C (RCP4.5) to 2.7 °C (RCP8.5) are to be expected.
  • Extremes related to temperatures (e.g. warm spells, extremely warm days) are likely to increase in frequency and intensity.
  • Precipitation totals are likely to stay reasonably constant but the GCMs show a large range of uncertainty under both the RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5
  • Precipitation extremes are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. Maximum 1-day precipitation volumes are expected to increase by about 15% and dry spells are expected to last longer.

Historic trends of wind speed were analyzed for Uzbekistan based on reanalysis data. Based on data over more than a century the data suggests that higher wind speeds (more frequent and/or more intense storms) can be expected in the future.

Considering the type of climate hazards and risks in the project area, and the area-specific climate change projections, overall the most serious threat comes from the expected increase in temperature extremes. Heat related stresses may put significant strain on the electricity system, leading to system faults, reduced power supply and power outages. Dust storms may also occur more frequently due to increased drought conditions, causing transmission losses to overhead power lines and damage transformers and distribution substations. In addition, while the hazard exposure is constricted to smaller parts of the project area, the expected increase in extreme precipitation events may lead to more frequent and powerful flooding events. Flooding and inundation of electricity network infrastructure have major impacts, often causing partial or complete power outages. Higher extreme discharges can also lead to more frequent landslides and more powerful mudflows, posing serious risk of damaging transmission towers which may lead to power outages.


For the two study catchments, satellite imagery and field observations were combined to perform a land degradation assessment and to identify trends. Secondly, baseline hydrological conditions were assessed using a hydrological simulation model. Future changes in hydrology and hydropower generation were evaluated by running the biophysical model for a Business-as-Usual scenario, accounting for land degradation trends, changes in water use, and climate change.

Subsequently, the impacts of three catchment investment portfolios (low, medium, high) containing different catchment activities were quantified with respect to the BaU scenario. Benefits and costs were analysed for the hydropower developers to evaluate whether it makes sense for them to invest in improved catchment activities. For one of the catchments this is clearly the case (Kiwira, Tanzania).

The analysis shows that the impacts of climate change on revenue from hydropower are in the same order of magnitude as the other negative anthropogenic factors: increased domestic water use demand in the catchment and land degradation due to poor conservation of natural areas and poor agricultural practices.

This week a team of experts from the Rwandese government visited the Netherlands to learn from the Dutch water authorities about their experience on water management. The focus was on peat dikes, as this mission was embedded in a joint effort of the Rwandese and Dutch government to improve the flood safety and water security of the Kigali region. The Muhazi Lake is the principal water source for the capital. At the outlet there is a dike, which has the function of a dam, which is currently in an emergency state and has a high risk of collapse. A new dike will protect the livelihoods around the Lake and should secure water supply to the city and farmers.

A one-week training was organized that included exchanges with experts and visits to key sites in the Netherlands, among others: the Waterboard Rivierenland and the UNESCO heritage site Kinderdijk, a visit to the Markermeerdijken Programme which aims to improve the safety of the population of 1.2 million people living in and near Amsterdam; a visit to Waterboard Friesland, to learn about pilot experiments on small peat dikes and of course the Afsluitdijk: the dike that protects the inland and the biggest fresh water reservoir of the Netherlands from the sea. The training week was organized by Peter Prins, who has a strong (inter)national network and experience in agriculture, climate change and water.

For the design of the dike and the outlet structures, FutureWater performed a flood extreme analysis, considering the buffering function of the Lake, and a water resources and water balance assessment. This assessment included the water demands and resulted in a proposal for reservoir operational rules. Also climate change scenarios were analysed and presented to the stakeholders. More info on the project can be found here.

Presentations in Breukelen.
Visit to Waterboard Rivierenland.

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.