Urban flood management in Laos is typically based on a limited, hard infrastructure approach. With the aim to shift this paradigm towards an integrated approach that enhances climate resilience, the project “Building resilience of urban populations with ecosystem-based solutions in Lao PDR” was approved by the Green Climate Fund Board in November 2019 with a GCF grant of US$10 million. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) serves as the Accredited Entity for the project. Activities are executed by the State of Lao PDR through the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) as well as UNEP. The project is implemented across five years (2020-2025) covering four provincial capitals in the country: Vientiane, Paksan, Savannakhet, and Pakse.

One component of the project involves technical and institutional capacity building to plan, design, implement and maintain integrated urban Ecosystems-based Adaptation (EbA) interventions for the reduction of climate change induced flooding. As a part of Integrated Climate-resilient Flood Management Strategy (ICFMS) development, the project conducts hydrological, hydraulic and climate risk assessments to inform climate change adaptation solutions for risk reduction in Vientiane, Paksan, Savannakhet and Pakse.

A consortium of FutureWater, Mekong Modelling Associates (MMA) and Lao Consulting Group (LCG) was contracted by MONRE to implement the related activities. FutureWater leads and coordinates this assignment and contributes remote sensing analyses with state-of-the-art innovative tools, climate risk assessments, and training activities. To ensure sustainability and effective technology transfer, the modelling and mapping infrastructure and trained staff will be hosted within MONRE and a knowledge hub that is established within the National University of Laos.

 

As part of the FAO’s Asia-Pacific Water Scarcity Programme (WSP), FutureWater conducts a scoping study to identify opportunities to improve sustainable water resources management in the country. Following this scoping assessment, FutureWater develops bankable investment concept notes for activities to strengthen national capacities to implement policy actions that prepare Mongolia for a water scarce future. As part of the project, a high level stakeholder consultation forum with key government stakeholders and development partners is organized to validate the findings of the assessment and prioritize the investment concepts.

Mongolia has a strong commitment to IWRM, as defined in the 2012 Water Law, and good progress has been made. This includes the establishment of river basin organizations (RBOs) to manage the 29 river basins in the country. Currently, there are 21 operational RBOs. However, these bodies lack the experience needed for implementation of their tasks. Training and professional development of employees of the water basin authorities are of the utmost importance, to enable them to implement the assigned tasks and be better positioned for advancing implementation of Target 6.5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

Within the project we cooperate with the hydrologists of ARA-Norte to discuss and establish the baseline for a water system analysis in the Monapo Catchment. Following discussion and mapping sessions, FutureWater is developing a Water Allocation Model in WEAP that includes climate change scenarios and mitigation and adaptation measures to asses the water availability of the catchment. Part of the assignment includes continuous training to local professional, to ensure the application of the developed model in the analysis of the system and elaborating specific proposal for implementation in the region.

Southern Spain is a highly productive agricultural region, but with huge challenges around water scarcity and environmental sustainability. There is a demand in the agricultural sector to work towards water stewardship in Spain. The Alliance for Water Stewardship has developed a Standard which helps retailers and their suppliers to cause change at scale. This approach recognizes that there are common challenges that could be more easily overcome through a collective, place-based approach.

In the Doñana region, berry farms and groundwater usage are causing a conflict with the unique ecosystems in the National Park. A catchment assessment and active stakeholder engagement is needed as a first step in this region to work towards water stewardship. The catchment assessment will provide information on the catchment context, in line with the requirements of the Standard. The purpose of the assessment is to reduce the burden on agricultural sites by providing them with a common set of information which they and others can use to inform responses to their shared water challenges.

Nigeria as a country faces extensive Water Security Challenges (WSCs), from water availability and provisioning to water quality issues. These will become exacerbated by multiple future pressures, including huge increases in population and a changing climate. Oshun and Ogun catchments are located in the South West of Nigeria, in the same area as Lagos. These catchments face multiple challenges including unregulated groundwater extraction and poor sanitation infrastructure which compromise societal access to water.

NbS have the potential to contibute to addressing WSCs by increasing the overall resilience of the hydrological system, helping to increase infiltration to groundwater and buffer water quality issues. Alongside this, NbS can provide a wealth of co-benefits including carbon sequestration and increased biodiversity, complementing more traditional so-called ‘grey’ infrastructure such as pipelines and treatment plants.

Through extensive stakeholder consultation paired with GIS analysis and hydrological modelling, this project will help outline NbS which are best placed to address key WSCs, alongside identifying beneficiaries in the catchments of interest and existing parnerships in the catchment which are capable of delivering projects on-the-ground.

This work lays the foundations for the creation of so-called Watershed Investment Programmes (WIPs) in Osun and Ogun catchments, alongside the identification of further catchments in Nigeria which are disposed towards similar initiatives. WIPs aim to sustain and enhance the provisioning of key water-related ecosystem services by funding the conservation and restoration of lands that protect water quantity and quality. This is achieved through connecting downstream water users (e.g. water utilities, local governments, businesses, and the public) to upstream land managers (e.g. farmers and rural landowners). They unite these parties and others around the goal of enhancing water quality and quantity for societal benefits.

This consultancy project is framed by the AQUIFER project, “Innovative instruments for the integrated management of groundwater in a context of increasing scarcity of water resources” (Interreg-SUDOE V programme) which aims to capitalize, test, disseminate and transfer innovative practices for the preservation, monitoring and integrated management of aquifers.

FutureWater expertise was required for providing a novel and open-source hydrological modelling framework able to quantify spatial patterns of daily root percolation as a direct surrogate of groundwater recharge in the Campo de Cartagena Quaternary Aquifer (CC-QA). This aquifer is located at SE Spain and is one of the most important vectors of water drainage to the Mar Menor lagoon.

This task is addressed through the improvement and local calibration of the SPHY code for the Campo de Cartagena and the simulation of the water balance in the soil root zone from the 1950s until the end 2020. The SPHY-Campo de Cartagena includes a new routine able to compute irrigation inputs at the pixel level based on satellite data. Timeseries of monthly root percolation are taken as good surrogates of potential groundwater recharge and used as the main forcing input to an hydrogeological model of the Quaternary aquifer. The calibration process is performed through a sensititivity-intercomparison analysis in which model-derived outputs (irrigation and streamflow) during the calibration period are cross-checked against actual observations.

Spatial patterns of root percolation and the relative contribution of irrigation return flows to the total groundwater recharge were quantified (e.g. Figure 1) under historical and current conditions. Simulation results would show the lack of a significant temporal trend in the long-term recharge rates in the aquifer, most likely due to the the strong interannual variability observed in rainfall patterns, but also by the trade-offs resulting from the combination of climate, land use and irrigation-crop management drivers.

Figure 1. Mean Annual values of the main water balance components in Campo de Cartagena (2000-2020). RPer_ratio refers to the fraction between Root Percolation (MA.RPer) and Precipitation (MA.Pre)

FutureWater supports Fiera Comox in its due diligence process for the acquisition of a vertically integrated tree-fruit operation in North Spain. Particularly, FutureWater addresses an overall assessment of the most important water-related factors of risk that may control the current and medium-term feasibility of the fruit orchard farming system of interest. The application of FutureWater’s approach applies a multicriteria analysis and allows to qualify the levels of risk for each key factor analyzed.

FutureWater’s approach rests on: 1) the collection and analysis of data retrieved from documents, large datasets, and in-situ field inspections and stakeholder interviews, and 2) the scoring of the risks previously identified based on a final expert judgment.

Key sources of information for this risk screening included:

  • Existing documentation, reports, plans, and local legislation that may affect the access to water for irrigation
  • Existing and publicly accessible spatial and GIS data, including satellite imagery and thematic datasets available through national and regional agencies and platforms (Ebro River Basin Authority, National Infrastructure of Geospatial Data, Spanish Information System of Water)
  • Meteorological data (rainfall and temperature) from nearby weather stations
  • Groundwater level from the Spanish National Ministry of Environment.
  • Private data and documents generated by clients and stakeholders through personal and follow-up communications with farmer

Key variables analyzed and evaluated at the district and regional scales, to the extent relevant to the farm, included:

  • Water availability of surface and groundwater resources. For groundwater, a trend analysis of water levels, and first-order assessment of quality constraints and risks is included.
  • Impacts of climate change on water resources availability based on rainfall and temperature trends and projections for the region.
  • Water quality for irrigation purposes.
  • Potential conflicts due to competition for water in agriculture and other sectors of activity.

Legislative and policy-related factors that may affect the overall performance were also analyzed risk-by-risk.

Four factors of risk were analyzed: water availability, climate change, water quality, and water conflict. Each factor of risk was scored according to a risk matrix in which levels of probability of occurrence and impact severity were qualified based on data and expert judgement. For each factor, a risk matrix with three levels of overall risk were adopted: Low Risk (L), Moderate Risk (M), and High Risk (H)

Figure 1. Overall risk levels when probability of occurrence and impact severity are qualified.
Figure 2. Overview of risk assessment by factor.

In this particular project, the approach was implemented in four different settings located in the area.

The MRC’s State of the Basin Report (SOBR) is a flagship product of the organization and an integral part of the MRC’s strategic planning cycle. Compiled about every five years based on the available data and information, the report assesses conditions and trends within the basin and the impacts that development and use of water and related natural resources are having. The SOBR provides a statement of past trends and current conditions, and seeks to highlight and provide guidance to Member Countries on significant transboundary issues that require cooperation among basin countries to address. The SOBR 2023 is structured around the Mekong River Basin Indicator Framework, consisting of 5 dimensions: Environment, Social, Economic, Climate Change, and Cooperation.

As a longstanding collaborator of MRCS, FutureWater was engaged to support the development of the Economic and Climate Change chapters of the SOBR 2023 and perform the related activities of data analyses, advisory on data gaps and SOBR content, attractive presentation of key results, and communication with Member Countries and specialized MRCS staff to address their comments and suggestions.

 

The alarming decline of springs has been attributed to the rapid expansion of road networks, alongside changes in land cover and climate. Road development in these areas exposes springs to disturbances or alters their natural outflow, while rock cutting disrupts the location of spring orifices. This problem has largely gone unnoticed, posing a significant threat to the local communities and their water resources.

The overarching goal of the project is to reimagine roads as instruments for landscape improvement rather than adversaries, harnessing road development to contribute positively to local water resources. By integrating techniques and tools (Digital twins and DSS toolkit), the project aims to ensure safe and reliable water supplies for people in mountain areas while safeguarding the quality of road infrastructure and maintaining connectivity. The Dhankuta municipality and the Department of Local Infrastructure (DoLI), which regulates infrastructure development activities in Nepal, will be the primary beneficiaries of this project.

The expected results of the RoSPro project include:

  1. Successful implementation of roadside spring protection through pilot interventions in Dhankuta municipality and promote “Nature-based solutions” and “Green Roads for Water (GR4W)” approaches.
  2. Evidence generation on the impact of the pilot intervention through cost-benefit analysis.
  3. Assessment of the potential impact of upscaling roadside spring protection through the development of a digital twin and decision support toolkit.
  4. Capacity building for Dhankuta municipality and DoLI regarding roadside spring protection approaches, technologies, impact, and upscaling.

RoSPro will lead to improved water security for consumptive and productive uses, directly benefiting up to 500 households in the region. Following the pilot phase, the project aims to expand its services to established clients and partner networks in Asia and Africa. The demand for similar services is high in many high mountain countries, and RoSPro aims to generate a framework to upscale this at national and regional scales.

Thus, the RoSPro is a vital initiative that seeks to address the critical issue of dwindling springs in the Himalayas. By transforming road development into a contributor to local water resources, RoSPro will improve water safety and security, benefiting both the communities and the environment in these challenging mountainous regions.

Tajikistan has initiated the Water Sector Reform Program, aiming to enhance water resource planning and allocation across different river basin zones. However, the development of a comprehensive integrated water resources management plan is hindered by a lack of data on snow and glacier melt. The impact of climate change on the cryosphere, including changes in glacier ice storage, snow dynamics, and evaporation rates, further compounds the issue by affecting high mountain water supply and altering runoff composition and overall water availability.

To address this challenge, the “Integrated Rural Development Project” (IRDP), implemented by GIZ as part of the bilateral development project “Towards Rural Inclusive Growth and Economic Resilience (TRIGGER),” focuses on enhancing the value of agricultural production in Tajikistan. As part of the project, the Water Output (Output 1.5) provides technical support to the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources (MEWR) in the Zarafshon River Basin and at the national level. This support includes technical advisory services, capacity building, training measures, and improving access to irrigation water for small-scale farmers. Local relevant stakeholders foreseen as project beneficiaries are MEWR, Zarafshon River Basin (Zarafshon RBO), Center of Glacier Research (CGR), the Institute of Water Problems (IWP) and the Agency for Hydrometeorology, Tajikistan.

The project has three core components: data collection, modeling, and capacity building, as outlined below. Data collection will include both field monitoring campaigns using UAVs and retrieving historical records which could either be past in-situ observations, remotely sensed or modelled data. This comprehensive dataset will be used to set up, calibrate and validate Spatial Processes in Hydrology (SPHY) and WEAP models. The project will use the model-chain to provide the probabilistic flow forecast (likelihood to be in dry, medium, or wet conditions) using the seasonal meteorological forecast data. The SPHY-WEAP model-chain will then be deployed in the Zarafshon RBO-based servers. The results of the model-chain will be used to develop a comprehensive policy guidance note, proposing strategies and a way forward for developing a robust climate-resilient integrated water resources management plan that will ensure both water availability and accessibility across the river basin. Capacity building is a critical component of the project to ensure its sustainability and upscaling. Therefore, six capacity-building trainings (online and in-country) targeting different technical areas of the project will be organized throughout the project.

By undertaking these efforts, we aim to contribute to the successful implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management in Zarafshon and Tajikistan.