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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

A multi-sensor hydrologic modeling framework to assess the impacts of small-scale water storage practices to water resources over Uganda

PI: Jamiat Nanteza (, Makerere University
U.S. Partner: Mathew Rodell, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Project Overview:

Water availability and accessibility are concerns that water managers strive to address in the face of climate change, population growth, and food insecurity. Water resources are strained during extreme hydrologic events, and as climate variability and extremes increase (Trenberth, 2012), the uncertainty of freshwater availability poses a threat for emerging economies like Uganda. Anecdotal reports from Uganda indicate that shrinking rivers and diminishing groundwater resources (Lwanga, 2015) have become commonplace, both of which indicate declines in groundwater storage. Water harvesting has the potential to mitigate climate impacts in the short-term (Kahinda et al., 2010); however, potential hydrologic alterations from such small-scale water captures and storage are unknown.

This study seeks to assess the viability of increasing water harvesting efforts in Uganda by examining associated hydrological impacts that result from the capture and storage of water. This study will apply an integrated modelling framework to exploit multivariate remote sensing data from NASA satellite missions combined with ground-based hydrologic observations to examine the spatial and temporal impacts of water harvesting. This project is a pilot study for model development and hypothesis testing. It thus provides a first step towards generation of a decision-support system for evaluating water use and management scenarios in the face of climate change and development. The research team will also address broader national development goals, including aiding decision making for development efforts towards irrigation-based agricultural production, as well as livelihoods. Results of the study should help to inform ongoing government efforts (for example, the Karamoja Action Plan for Food Security) aimed at transitioning the Karamoja dry-land communities from pastoralism to crop farming.

Summary of Recent Events

The period April-June 2017 has been focused on data collection and project inception meetings in different parts of Uganda. Given that the project covers the whole country, It was deemed necessary to carry out various inception meetings across the country to bring the different local stakeholders on board. In that regard, two project inception meetings were held for the Eastern and Western Uganda regions/districts. During these meetings that mostly involved water and environmental officers, the project was introduced and the stakeholder needs with regards to the project were sought through short questionnaires. A database of water and environmental engineers from the Eastern and Western parts of Uganda has been created.

During this quarter, data collection activities have also continued. The PI visited the Ministry of Water and Environment to request access to the data that was collected for the water supply atlas map of Uganda. Thus the team has access to the different water collection points (groundwater, rainwater harvesting tanks, tap water) and their different characteristics (including functionality, populations served, year of construction e.t.c).

Data processing and analysis has started. This dataset would be useful in generating the current water harvesting characteristics across Uganda. The team has also identified two potential master's students that would be recruited in this project. The students are going through the application process to Makerere graduate school. In the same regards, 4 research assistants were recruited into the project. They have been involved in the project activities especially inception meetings. They are still going through training for field data collection purposes which will commence shortly.

In the next 3-6 months, the following activities are planned.
1. Purchase of super computer for modeling, and data loggers, GPSs and groundwater measuring tapes
2. Start of field data collection activities
3. Set up hydrologic model
4. Presentation at AGU conference
5. PI visit to mentor's institution in the USA

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