The issue of water scarcity is intensifying across the Asia Pacific region, posing significant challenges for sustainable agricultural production and water resources management. The Water Scarcity Program (WSP), designed by FAO-RAP and partners, aims to bring agricultural water use within sustainable limits and prepare the sector for a productive future with less water. The program aims to assess the ongoing issue of water scarcity in the region, evaluate potential management options, and assist partner countries to implement adaptive management in the agriculture water sector using innovative tools and approaches.

As part of the WSP, FutureWater will design and deliver a two-phase water accounting training program in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, respectively. The first phase of the training will primarily focus on introducing and better understanding the concept of water accounting, its components and approaches. Participants will also work with tools such as REWAS and Follow the Water (developed by FutureWater in collaboration with FAO) to conduct water accounting in agricultural systems at different scales. Through the use of these tools, participants will be able to estimate real water savings at system and basin scale, and also analyze the impact of different irrigation schemes on the overall water availability in the system. The second phase will consist of participants working on the selected basin in each country to develop a detailed water account. Given the data availability and accessibility issues in the region, the participants will learn how to access, process and analyse remotely sensed datasets using Google Earth Engine.

In addition to the trainings, FutureWater will also provide technical inputs for the regional WSP events on water scarcity and highlight the technical challenges of implemeting water accounting and allocation in south-east Asia for the WSP High Level Technical Meeting to be held in June 2024.

The first annual meeting of BONEX took place from 30 May – 1 June in Jordan where all consortium partners came together to present their progress, highlight challenges and outline the next steps.

The project aims to promote the practical implementation of water, energy, food and ecosystem (WEFe) nexus through context-adapted technological innovations across seven countries in the Mediterranean region. As part of the project, FutureWater has been developing a tool, REWEF (Realistic Evaluation of Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystem nexus), that quantifies the linkages between the four sectors of the WEFe nexus and allows users to assess the impact of different interventions and scenarios on the system.

While the tool is still under development, a preliminary assessment of the demonstration site in the Axarquia region (Spain) was carried out. The impacts of different climate (drought) and socioeconomic (increasing irrigated land and population) scenarios on the water, energy, food and ecosystem sectors in the Axarquia region were assessed and presented at the annual meeting. Coordinators and members leading the Demonstration Projects (DPs) within BONEX expressed their interest in using the tool to analyze the status of the WEFe nexus at their respective sites.

In the coming months, FutureWater will be further developing and testing the tool in close collaboration with the DP leaders to evaluate the WEFe nexus in their respective regions.

For more information about BONEX (funded by PRIMA programme), please click here and also visit the official website.

BONEX consortium members visit the Demonstration Project in Jordan
The Demonstration Project in Jordan consists of solar powered hydroponic farming of cucumbers
Presenting the REWEF tool to the stakeholders at the German Jordanian University (GJU,Madaba)

Last week, the first part of the Water Accounting Training for the Agriculture, Climate and Water Sector Organizations in Pakistan was successfully completed at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) office in Islamabad, Pakistan.

This training has been designed by FutureWater and FAO as part of the Green Climate Fund funded project titled: ‘Transforming the Indus Basin with Climate Resilient Agriculture and Water Management’. Component 1 of this project focuses on enhancing information services for climate change adaptation in the water and agriculture sectors.

FutureWater conducted a capacity needs assesment in order to design a tailor made training that facilitates the development of water accounts at different scales (from basin to water course level) for key stakeholders in Pakistan. In total, approximately 30 participants from federal and provincial government departments (Punjab and Sindh) as well as academia actively participated in the training program.

The training consisted of the following three modules:

  1. Introduction to the components of Water Accounting
  2. Understanding and quantifying water pathways within a domain (using FutureWater’s in-house tools: REWAS and Follow the Water)
  3. Understanding and quantifying water inflows and outflows (using Google Earth Engine for accessing and processing remotely sensed datasets).
In person sessions at FAO office in Islamabad
Theory presentation
Group work discussion

With a target to increase the gross domestic product from $70 billion in 2021 to $160 billion by 2030, the Government of Uzbekistan is taking steps to ensure that it will be able to meet the spike in electricity demand which is expected to double by 2030. Initiatives include installing an additional 17 gigawatts capacity to the existing available capacity of 12.9 GW, out of which 8 GW will be from renewable energy projects. Currently, the distribution system in Uzbekistan comprises of more than 260,000 kilometers of 0.4-110 kV networks, 1,655 substations and more than 86,000 transformer points. However, more than 50% of the lines have been operational for 30 years and 30% of the substation transformers are in dire need of rehabilitation. Therefore, the Asian Development Bank is working closely with the Joint Stock Company Regional Electric Power Networks (JSC REPN) to: i) Rehabilitate and modernize the distribution substations, ii) Rehabilitate associated distribution lines, and iii) Enhance the institutional capacity for financial sustainability and climate resiliency.

These rehabilitation efforts will also take into account and address the growing impacts of climate change in the region. For this, FutureWater has been assigned to carry out a climate risk and adaptation assessment (CRA). 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. Insights from the CRA will be used to devise adaptation strategies. Additionally, FutureWater will be reviewing the existing meteorological monitoring network and recommending additional potential monitoring sites for improved surveillance in the country. To further assist the Government of Uzbekistan actualize its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) agenda which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of GDP by 35% (compared to the level in 2010), by the year 2030, FutureWater will also develop a GHG account and prepare a Paris Agreement alignment assessment.

Early September at the Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product (G3P) General Assembly in Zurich, FutureWater, along with 11 other consortium partners, gathered to present scientific results, project milestones, and discuss the way forward. For context, the G3P product monitors groundwater storage changes with global coverage at a monthly resolution (2002 – present) through a cross-cutting combination of GRACE and GRACE-FO satellite data. The product is being developed for operational implementation of the Essential Climate Variable (ECV) Groundwater into the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

As part of the project, FutureWater is responsible for validating the G3P product against in-situ groundwater observations in continental Spain (at pixel level) as well as use it to calibrate a Groundwater Drought Index and integrate it into InfoSequia which is FutureWater’s in-house Drought Early Warning System.

From FutureWater, Tania Imran presented the research findings from the validation case study in Spain while Sergio Contreras shared the technical workflow for the ingestion of the G3P product in InfoSequia. Different statistical metrics were adopted to assess the correlation between the GRACE-groundwater storage anomalies and in-situ groundwater index. Cross-correlations, obtained at 0.5-degree resolution, were presented followed by a discussion on the spatial patterns observed and the potential influence of local hydro(geo)logical conditions on the results.

As the groundwater storage anomaly is derived by accounting for changes in glaciers, snow, soil moisture and surface water, other consortium partners responsible for developing these accounts also shared insights on the most optimal approach to compute water storage variations in such compartments.

Since the project is now in its concluding phase, FutureWater is condensing the research findings in a report that will highlight the performance of G3P in continental Spain and show how the product can refine drought early warning systems.

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.

On 25th July and 2nd August 2022, FAO Pakistan conducted a Water Accounting Methodology Sharing workshop in Lahore (Punjab) and Karachi (Sindh), respectively. Peter Droogers (Senior Hydrologist) and Tania Imran (Consultant) from FutureWater joined the workshop to deliver introductory sessions on the concept of water accounting and the potential use of remote sensing.

The workshop was conducted as part of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) project titled “Transforming the Indus Basin with Climate Resilient Agriculture and Water Management”. The project aims to shift agriculture and water management to a new paradigm in which processes are effectively adapting to climate change.

Government officials from different provincial departments as well as researchers from various universities participated in both the workshops. Peter, as a Senior Water Specialist for the project, explained the concept of water accounting through interactive exercises and highlighted how water accounting can help analyze future scenarios and inform decision-making for sustainable water resources management. He also introduced the concept of real water savings in agriculture to broaden the participants’ perspectives and encourage them to reflect on what constitutes as ‘water losses’. Similarly, Tania shared the limitations of the existing WA methodology which solely relies on ground data and introduced opportunities for remote sensing to fill these gaps. As examples of geospatial analysis tools that can be employed for this task, she introduced Google Earth Engine and EarthMap to the participants through short exercises.

As one of the objectives of Component 1 of the project is to develop an interdisciplinary team to establish a water accounting system at four different scales, FutureWater is currently involved in building this interdisciplinary team and enhancing their technical capacity.

For this, one-on-one stakeholder meetings with different government organizations, such as Pakistan Meteorological Department, On-Farm Water Management and Provincial Irrigation Departments, also took place during the visit. The aim of these stakeholder meetings was to assess their existing technical capacity, identify training needs and gain an understanding of their desired outputs.

The next step is to design a training curriculum that will enable this interdisciplinary team to conduct water accounting at different spatiotemporal scales.


Workshop participants
Presentation by Peter Droogers

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 Mediterranean Region is facing growing challenges to ensure food and water supply as countries experience increasing demand and decreasing availability of natural resources. The nexus approach aims at managing and leveraging synergies across sectors with an efficient and integrated management of the Water, Energy, Food, and Ecosystems Nexus (WEFE).

BONEX objectives are to provide practical and adapted tools, examine concrete and context-adapted technological innovations, enhance policies and governance and facilitate WEFE Nexus practical implementation that balances the social, economic, and ecological trade-offs.

The project aims at producing a novel, transdisciplinary, diagnostic WEFE Bridging Framework, which combines methods in a context-specific manner and going beyond disciplinary silos. The diagnostic tools supporting the framework will be developed and tested in seven selected demonstration projects in the region which pilot innovative technologies (agrivoltaics, wastewater reuse systems, etc.).

As a result, BONEX will provide policymakers and practitioners with an interactive decision-making tool to evaluate trade-offs, synergies, and nexus solutions approaches in a transdisciplinary manner. Further, it will produce valuable experiences with tailoring innovative WEFE Nexus technologies that provides new business opportunities. The WEFE nexus approach is required to implement sustainable agri-food systems and preserve ecosystems.

Within BONEX FutureWater will actively contribute to the package of diagnostic tools. A simple water accounting tool (REWAS) will be used to evaluate if ‘Real Water Savings’ are achieved with innovative technologies. The water accounting tool evaluates water flows at field level and irrigation district scale and determines if any ‘real savings’ are achieved. The tool also incorporates the aspects of food production (crop yield) and will introduce components for evaluating energy and water quality aspects to complement the WEFE Nexus aspects. The seven demonstration projects will be used to demonstrate and iteratively develop this water accounting tool. A hydrological analysis is performed in selected locations to also evaluate the impact at basin (watershed) scale. Eventually the results from these analyses will be translated into policy implications and achievements of SDG’s (sustainable development goals).

This project is part of the PRIMA programme supported by the European Union.

The Mekong State Of the Basin Report (SOBR) is published by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) every five years, in advance of the cyclic updating of the Basin Development Strategy. The SOBR plays a key role in improving monitoring and communication of conditions in the Mekong Basin, and is MRC’s flagship knowledge and impact monitoring product. It provides information on the status and trends of water and related resources in the Mekong Basin. The 2023 SOBR is based on the MRC Indicator Framework of strategic and assessment indicators and supporting monitoring parameters, which facilitates tracking and analysis of economic, social, environmental, climate change and cooperation trends in the basin.

FutureWater was hired by MRC to perform the following tasks in support of the 2023 SOBR development:

  1. Data collection on the Extent of Salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta and the conditions of the Mekong River’s riverine, estuarine, and coastal habitats
  2. Analyses of the extents of 2010, 2015, and 2020 LMB wetlands
  3. Analyses of the extents of key fisheries habitat areas in the LMB, and
  4. Data collection for all Assessment Indicators of MRB-IF for the Upper Mekong River Basin (UMB), including reporting and extracting key messages

Implementation of tasks 1 – 3 is achieved by using state-of-the-art remote sensing tools, such as the Google Earth Engine, building on the methods developed in the preceding project.

Task 4 builds on the findings of FutureWater’s contribution to the 2018 SOBR regarding the status of the UMB in China and Myanmar, more details can be found here.