Last month, FutureWater concluded training programs on Real Water Savings for Bangladesh, China and Indonesia.
This training was part of the project ‘Delivering Training on Real Water Savings (ReWaS) for the Regional Water Scarcity Program in Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Thailand and China’ that FutureWater is rolling out in cooperation with the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

In this project, FutureWater offers a training program on Real Water Savings (ReWaS) to water management professionals from five different countries. ReWaS is a simple tool developed by FutureWater, to estimate the potential for generating real water savings from various agronomic, water management and technical practices in irrigated agriculture.

The training offered a tailored training package that facilitates an assessment of the impact of field scale crop-water interventions at the basin scale.For all the trainings so far, we had an enthusiastic and ambitious group of water experts ranging from university students to government officials. All participants were actively involved and worked very hard during the interactive live sessions and the homework assignments.

For each country, we provided a tailor-made case study that combined all the knowledge gained over the training program:
  • China: Towards groundwater neutral cropping systems in the Alluvial Fans of the North China Plain
  • Indonesia: Agronomic Performance and Economic Benefits of Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) Under Drip Irrigation for Sandy and Clay Soils in East Java, Indonesia
  • Bangladesh: Effect of drip irrigation and mulching on yield, water-use efficiency and economics of tomato

In irrigated agriculture options to save water tend to focus on improved irrigation techniques such as drip and sprinkler irrigation. These irrigation techniques are promoted as legitimate means of increasing water efficiency and “saving water” for other uses (such as domestic use and the environment). However, a growing body of evidence, including a key report by FAO (Perry and Steduto, 2017) shows that in most cases, water “savings” at field scale translate into an increase in water consumption at system and basin scale. Yet despite the growing and irrefutable body of evidence, false “water savings” technologies continue to be promoted, subsidized and implemented as a solution to water scarcity in agriculture.

The goal is to stop false “water savings” technologies to be promoted, subsidized and implemented. To achieve this, it is important to quantify the hydrologic impacts of any new investment or policy in the water sector. Normally, irrigation engineers and planners are trained to look at field scale efficiencies or irrigation system efficiencies at the most. Also, many of the tools used by irrigation engineers are field scale oriented (e.g. FAO AquaCrop model). The serious consequences of these actions are to worsen water scarcity, increase vulnerability to drought, and threaten food security.

There is an urgent need to develop simple and pragmatic tools that can evaluate the impact of field scale crop-water interventions at larger scales (e.g. irrigation systems and basins). Although basin scale hydrological models exist, many of these are either overly complex and unable to be used by practitioners, or not specifically designed for the upscaling from field interventions to basin scale impacts. Moreover, achieving results from the widely-used FAO models such as AquaCrop into a basin-wide impact model is time-consuming, complex and expensive. Therefore, FutureWater developed a simple but robust tool to enhance usability and reach, transparency, transferability in data input and output. The tool is based on proven concepts of water productivity, water accounting and the appropriate water terminology, as promoted by FAO globally (FAO, 2013). Hence, the water use is separated in consumptive use, non-consumptive use, and change in storage.

A complete training package was developed which includes a training manual and an inventory of possible field level interventions. The training manual includes the following aspects:

  1. Introduce and present the real water savings tool
  2. Describe the theory underlying the tool and demonstrating some typical applications
  3. Learn how-to prepare the data required for the tool for your own area of interest
  4. Learn when real water savings occur at system and basin scale with field interventions

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.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDCs) Global Programme Climate Change and Environment (GP CCE) India is supporting the operationalization of climate change adaptation actions in the mountain states of Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh through the phase two of the “Strengthening State Strategies for Climate Action” (3SCA) project that was launched in 2020. The second phase of 3SCA (2020-23), known as the Strengthening Climate Change Adaptation in Himalayas (SCA-Himalayas), while building on the experience and achievements of Phase 1, aims to showcase mountain ecosystem appropriate scalable approaches for climate resilience in water and disaster risk management sectors; using these efforts to enhance the capacities of the institutions across the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) to plan, implement and mainstream adaptation actions into their programmes and policy frameworks; and disseminating the experiences and lessons at the regional and global level.

Within this programme, SDC has granted a project to FutureWater, together with Utrecht University, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the University of Geneva and a few individual experts. The activities in this project focus on the development and application of climate responsive models and approaches for integrated water resources management (IWRM) for a selected glacier-fed sub-basin system in Uttarakhand and that at the same will find place in relevant policy frameworks paving way for their replication across IHR and other mountainous regions. This will allow the policy makers from the mountain states in India to manage the available water resources in an efficient and effective manner, benefiting the populations depending on these resources.

The combination of future climate change and socio-economic development poses great challenges for water security in areas depending on mountain water (Immerzeel et al., 2019). Climate change affects Asia’s high mountain water supply by its impact on the cryosphere. Changes in glacier ice storage, snow dynamics, evaporation rates lead to changes in runoff composition, overall water availability, seasonal shifts in hydrographs, and increases in extremely high and low flows (Huss and Hock, 2018; Lutz et al., 2014a). On the other and, downstream water demand in South Asia increases rapidly under population growth and increasing welfare boosting the demand for and electricity generation through hydropower. To address and adapt to these challenges integrated water resource management (IWRM) approaches and decision support systems (DSS) tailored to glacier- and snow-fed subbasins are required.

To fulfil the mandate outlined by SDC a framework is presented for IWRM and DSS for Himalayan subbasins consisting of three integrated platforms. (i) A modelling and decision support platform built around a multi-scale modelling framework for glacier and snow fed subbasins, based on state-of-the art and “easy to use” modelling technology. (ii) A stakeholder engagement platform to consult key stakeholders, identify key IWRM issues and co-design a new IWRM plan for Bhagirathi subbasin. (iii) A capacity building platform with on-site training and e-learning modules for the key project components: glacio-hydrological modelling, IWRM and DSS, to ensure the sustainability of the approach and pave the way for upscaling to other subbasins in the Indian Himalayan Region.

The three platforms are designed designed to be flexible, integrated and interactive. Moreover they align with the three outcomes of the project, thus contributing to: develop and validate an integrated climate resilient water resource management approach (Outcome 1); increase technical and institutional capacity in the fields of hydrological modelling, IWRM and DSS (Outcome 2); support the embedding of the IWRM approach tailored to glacier-fed Indian Himalayan subbasins in policies, and provide generic outputs and guidelines to facilitate upscaling to other subbasins in the Indian Himalayan Region (Outcome 3).

The modelling and decision support platform is designed for operation under the data scarce conditions faced in Himalayan catchments, and yields reliable outputs and projections. The modelling toolset covers the Bhagirathi watershed (Figure below) and consists of 3 hydrological models: (i) a high resolution glacio-hydrological model for the Dokriani glacier catchment (SPHY-Dokriani). Key parameters derived with this model are upscaled to (ii) a distributed glacio-hydrological model that covers the Bhagirathi subbasin (SPHYBhagirathi). Outputs of this model feed into (iii) a water allocation model that overlays the SPHY-Bhagirathi model in the downstream parts of the basin, where water demands are located (WEAPPODIUMSIM Bhagirathi). This modelling toolset is forced with downscaled climate change projections and socio-economic projections to simulate future changes in water supply and demand in the subbasin. On the basis of stakeholder inputs, adaptation options are identified and implemented in the water allocation model for scenario analysis. Thus, socio-economic projections and adaptation options are co-designed with the stakeholders to ensure maximum applicability, and are tailored to the requirements for formulation of the new IWRM plan. The outputs of the modelling toolset feed into the Decision Support System, where they are presented in such a way that they can truly support decision making in this subbasin. Results of the modelling, decision support and stakeholder engagement platforms jointly support the co-design of an IWRM plan for the subbasin. Capacity in glacio-hydrological modelling, IWRM and the use of DSS is built through a combination of on-site training and e-learning; replicable training modules are developed for glacio-hydrological modelling, IWRM and DSS in general and for this particular approach to support implementation and sustainability.

Overview of the Bhagirathi sub-basin. The inset on the right shows the Dokriani glacier watershed


Nepal’s freshwater availability and timing are under thread by extreme temperature and precipitation variations, changing monsoon patterns, melting of ice caps and glaciers, and reduced snow cover. Some initial estimated economic cost of climate change in agriculture, hydropower and water induced disasters show a number of up to 2-3% of GDP per year by 2050.

The proposed project aims to improve landscape-scale adaptation and disaster risk management through a set of outputs:

  1. Climate-smart landscape management practices adopted and enhanced
  2. Climate-resilient rural livelihoods developed
  3. Integrated disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation approaches
  4. Capacities of local communities, regional and national decision-makers, and institutions on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction strengthened

FutureWater developed a so-called “Problem Tree” analysis for the proposed project. A Problem Tree is a helpful tool to understand the relationships between a problem, its causes, and its effects. The trunk of the tree represents the main problem, the roots the causes of the problem, and the branches the direct and indirect effects of the problem.

The project will be further developed as a so-called Climate Change Adaptation Project. More traditional development projects include also climate proofing, but focus is on development investments and adaptation is a secondary objective. Although those development projects contribute to adaptation (by helping the proposed asset or activity being financed to adapt to identified physical climate risks to the asset/activity), the primary objective of such a project is not adaptation. Climate Change Adaptation Projects are intentionally designed to enable climate adaptation of a high-risk topics. This is achieved by supporting outputs and activities that reduce the impacts of current and future expected climate risks and/or address barriers to adaptation, thereby advancing resilience. So this Climate Change Adaptation Project is meant to advance Nepal’s goal on adaptation.

FutureWater has undertaken a country wide climate risk screening as starting point for further project specific assessments. Main conclusions in the context of the program objectives were that by increased temperatures water supply will be challenged by the risk that water demand will increase and that at the same that supply will reduce by higher evaporation from catchments. Also waste water treatment will face the risk of reduced efficiencies.

India’s number of warm days and nights are expected to increase up to 70%. Water supply, wastewater treatment and urban water bodies will face same challenges as by increased temperature but more intense during those days. Similarly, heat waves are projected to be 3 to 4 times higher by the end of the twenty-first century. The result will be that water supply, waste water treatments and urban water bodies will face same challenges as under increased temperature but even more pronounced during those heat wave periods.

An increase in mean precipitation is uncertain according to various climate projection. If this increase will happen the impact on the three program components (water supply, waste water, urban water bodies) will be manageable. However, a decrease in mean precipitation is projected as well according to some climate scenarios. If this will happen then water supply will be at high risk of water shortages by a higher demand from users and a reduction in supply from rivers, streams and in the longer run from groundwater. An increase in daily precipitation extremes is quite likely to happen according to most climate scenario. Risk of additional flooding will increase.

The analysis concluded that since the location where projects will be implemented in the context of this program has to be defined yet, only generic conclusions relevant for the entire country could be provided. It was highly advised that for each specific project that will be implemented a detailed Climate Risk Assessment has to be undertaken.

The objectives of this climate risk assessment for the Li River in China is to assess current flood risk and future flood risk in the Li river basin in China. With an average of 1800 mm annual total rainfall, floods are severe and frequent in the region. Additionally to rainfall, severe floods in are often related to discharges from upstream reservoirs

Given the fact that this area is data scarce, global datasets with climatic data (ERA5-Land), soil parameters (HiHydroSoil) and land cover (Copernicus) were used to feed a hydrological HEC-HMS model to calculate the discharge for the extreme event of June 2020. Based on measured water levels and discharge, it was possible to develop rating curves and with these rating curves, it was possible to estimate water levels in the river for current (validation) and future conditions. This analysis served as input for the full climate risk assessment,  in which possible interventions were proposed to reduce flood risk in the future.

The proposed Mombasa Water Fund should secure and improve the quantity and quality of source waters for Mombasa City by channelling investments into source protection and catchment conservation measures of the watersheds. Current spring- and groundwater-based water supply infrastructure is insufficient to meet the city’s growing demands. Focus of the study is therefore on the watershed that serves a new water reservoir (Mwache Dam).

The design study will:

  • Assess the biophysical, financial, economic and socio-economic benefits of the MWF; and
  • Identify the potential governance and financing models to establish the MWF

FutureWater performs the biophysical analysis of this study. It aims to link activities in the watershed with positive outcomes for water security. Different combinations of solutions (nature-based primarily) are simulated through an hydrological modelling tool to assess impacts on water quantity and quality, including erosion and sediment yield. The model allows also to assess water demand versus supplies and resulting possible future shortages. Outputs are used in the economic analysis that will cost and valuate different alternative scenarios. The business case study should enable the creation of another successful Water Fund in sub-Saharan Africa promoted by The Nature Conservancy.

Erosion plays a critical role in soil and water resource conservation projects. The WEAP model (Water Evaluation And Planning Tool) is widely used for water planning assessments, but an erosion module was lacking so far. The new WEAP Erosion Plugin (WEP) will fill this gap.

The new plugin, referred to as WEP (WEAP Erosion Plugin) was developed by FutureWater in association with the Stockholm Environment (SEI). Peter Droogers, main developer of WEP, mentions: “WEP enables us to do a full water resources analysis including erosion assessments within one modeling tool”. Plugins are relatively new in WEAP but allow for expanding the model with new processes. The erosion plugin is currently applied in projects that FutureWater undertakes for various partners including The Nature Conservancy (TNC), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and national water resource management institutes.

The WEAP Erosion Plugin (WEP) can be freely used by each WEAP user. Johannes Hunink, director of FutureWater: “We are committed to a more sustainable future for our water resources, and make this plugin therefore available for everyone”. Jack Sieber, lead developer of WEAP at SEI, is pleased to notice that WEAP can be used now in projects and studies where erosion is an important aspect.

Interested in downloading the plugin? Follow this link. The associated report and manual can be found here.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) is supporting the Government of Kazakhstan in it’s “Wastewater Treatment Plants Reconstruction and Construction Program”. The overall aim is to improve the wastewater treatment facilities in the 53 cities across Kazakhstan. The Program will be implemented through a phased approach. During the first phase five Wastewater Treatment Plants in Stepnogorsk, Zhezkazgan, Satpayev, Balkhash and Zhanatas are to be financed by ADB.

FutureWater has undertaken a climate risk and adaptation analysis for those facilities. FutureWater has extended and updated a previous climate risk assessment (CRA). The original CRA was based on the CMIP3 projections and only some selected climate models were used. FutureWater has updated the original CRA by using downscaled CMIP5 projections (NASA-NEX) for RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 and the full range of climate models. Also adaptation strategies were refined.

Results show that the key climate risks includes a projected increase in mean annual temperature for all five waste water treatment plants and hottest day temperature are in the same range. Those higher temperatures might negatively affect operations and efficiencies of the plants. Mean annual precipitation is projected to increase for all five treatment plants. Potential risk of flooding of the infrastructure or large influx of storm water is determined by wettest day precipitation. An increase in wettest day precipitation is projected to be between 6% to 14%. Zhanatas and Stepnogorsk waste water treatment plants are most vulnerable regarding the risk of increased severity and frequency of floods.

Adaptation interventions to those projected climate changes are explored in the initial environmental examination (IEE) and will be further developed during the detailed design phase. The following broad adaptation options are foreseen:

  • selection of sites less prone to flooding for the two new WWTP,
  • flood protection of the three WWTP to be rehabilitated,
  • selection of sewerage technology that will function under higher temperatures,
  • awareness raising of staff, and
  • monitoring to avoid sewer overflows during storm events.