A welcome piece of positive news for Africa comes from the Sri Lanka-headquartered International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and a new satellite data initiative.
IWMI, a non-profit, scientific research organization focusing on the sustainable use of water and land resources in developing countries, along with earth observation service Digital Earth Africa (DEA), will leverage state-of-the-art remote-sensing and data management technologies to enhance the ability of African governments, communities and companies to better manage their water.
The Digital Earth Africa partnership organizes decades of satellite data – updated daily – into an analysis-ready Open Data Cube (ODC). IWMI will work with DEA to develop tools to translate this data into decision-ready information for water resource management.
This project, part of IWMI’s Water Secure Africa Initiative (WASA), is being funded by the Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust, which aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the US and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives.
Through WASA, IWMI will work with the DEA programme to develop applications for the Open Data Cube (ODC); the ODC can generate timely and quality information to help users better understand water use and availability, water risks, water quality, and water values and efficiency. These applications will be entirely open and free to use.
The first application that IWMI will develop is for water accounting, which is a means to take stock of available water resources in order to arrive at better informed water management decisions – for example balancing water allocations across different sectors, or understanding the downstream implications of new irrigation schemes. IWMI will also develop applications for flood and drought mapping and early warning systems.
IWMI will also support an already growing data innovation community in Africa to develop water-related applications that would benefit individual countries, communities and businesses.
The project will leverage advanced data acquisition (earth and satellite observation) and processing technologies as well as emergent technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning to create demand-driven knowledge applications and tools that deliver readily usable information to a wide range of users including policymakers, communities and farmers.