Copernicus for Africa: Opportunities for Earth Observation for Water

 Copernicus for Africa: Opportunities for Earth Observation for Water

Earlier this week we joined the “Copernicus for Africa” webinar, part of a series of webinars organised by the Water-ForCE Horizon 2020 project. In this webinar participants were introduced to Copernicus water-related projects in Africa and learned about opportunities to get involved.

FANFAR Project overview

Aytor Naranjo is the Business Development Director at Lobelia Earth, a Spanish SME specialised in satellite technology, computational intelligence and visualisation software for climate action and air quality. He presented a flood forecasting service in West Africa, called “FANFAR”.

“FANFAR is a common effort between African and European organisations”, he says. The project was started after a series of floods in West Africa in recent years. FANFAR is a European Union-financed project that co-designs, co-adapts, and co-operates a short- and medium-term hydrological forecasting and alert pilot system for West Africa.

Cascade of actors at regional, national and local levels involved in improving West African flood management through FANFAR / Image credit:

Some of the key achievements of the FANFAR project include:

  • Four workshops in West Africa and online
  • Involved over 30  organisations from 17 countries
  • Clarify and prioritise user needs using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA)
  • Analyse behaviour and experiences

Most importantly, FANFAR has been running a flood forecasting and alert system for West Africa, with daily updates, since September 2018.

FANFAR is building a community of hydrological and meteorological researchers and government organisations to increase awareness about flood forecasting.

#EveryDrop Counts: Water treatment and legal aspects

Ruvimbo Samanga, a Research Fellow with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and a Space policy analyst, presented “Fundamental Laws for Water Resource Management in Africa Using Copernicus EO Data: Matching legal drafting to the objectives of the Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028”.

The International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, that runs from 2018 to 2028, aims at accelerating efforts towards meeting water-related challenges.

The objectives of the decade focus on the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources for the achievement of social, economic and environmental objectives and on the implementation and promotion of related programmes and projects, as well as on the furtherance of cooperation and partnership at all levels in order to help to achieve internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Decade also highlights the importance of promoting efficient water usage at all levels, taking into account the water, food, energy, environment nexus; and stresses the importance of the participation and full involvement of all relevant stakeholders, including women, children, young people, older persons, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and local communities.

In her presentation, Ms Samanga focused on development zones for water treatment in Africa from a law and policy point of view. 

One of the slides from Ruvimbo Samanga’s presentation

She emphasised that the public-private partnership model is the most effective model for improving water resource management in Africa. She also believes that cheaper ways to treat water should be found, and access to data should be improved for the general public.

Water-related products and services over Africa

Milan Kalas from the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Italy presented an overview of “Water-related products and services for Africa”

Water products under Copernicus are based on two Copernicus services: Emergency and Land Monitoring. Milan Kalas shared resources which cover the following areas:

  • On-Demand Mapping – Water products
  • Flood forecasting and monitoring services
  • Drought monitoring services
  • Africa Inland Water Coverage
  • Water Quality for SDG 6
Image credit: Milan Kalas’ presentation

These Copernicus services and their underlying products are free and open for everyone:

All presentations from “Copernicus for Africa” are available on a Water-ForCE webinar page.

Don’t miss future events

The next Water-ForCE webinar will be held at the end of April, with the topic “Public-Private partnerships for Copernicus water services”. All information and free registration are available here.

To stay up to date with upcoming events, visit our Events page or subscribe to our newsletter.

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About Water-ForCE

All six Copernicus Services (Atmosphere, Marine, Land, Climate Change, Security, Energy) deliver water and hydrology related services. However, the European Commission noticed that this way it is hard to get a comprehensive understanding of the global water cycle, there are gaps in water related products, there is duplication and it is hard for user communities to find relevant Copernicus products. Therefore, the Horizon2020 Space Programme opened a call for a Coordination and Support Action project: “Copernicus evolution: Mission exploitation concept for WATER” to find the best long-term mission concept.

Check out the Water-ForCE project website here

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Kacia Rutkoŭskaja

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