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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 Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

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 October -December 2017 has continued to focus on secondary data collection and analysis. A dataset on water supply (harvesting points) across the whole country was compiled from the Ministry of water and environment archives. Data analysis of this dataset started in a bid to estimate how much water is being abstracted from the different parts of the country. This data is important in calibrating/validation the model to be run over the region. The analysis has produced a working map on the estimates of groundwater abstraction over the country. Some of these results were presented at the annual American Geophysical Union Meeting in December 2017.

A Skype call between the PI, USA partner (Dr. Mathew Rodell), and her USA mentor (Assistant professor Brian Thomas) and my Ugandan mentor (Dr. Paul Isolo Mukwaya and Prof. C.P.K Basalirwa) was held in which the PI updated everyone about the progress of the project. A number of suggestions were also raised with regards to smooth running of the project.

During this quarter, a component of capacity building was also undertaken. A pre-training workshop was organized to train participants in the software tools used to analyse satellite data for water resources in preparation for the global data acquisition and analysis workshop. This workshop mainly concerned training participants in the different software used in reading and analyzing satellite data including matlab, Python and ArcGis, the different ways in which satellite information is stored (data extensions) e.g netcdf and HDF. Also covered were the different websites from which satellite data can be downloaded. Participants included students, Makerere staff and some members from the ministry of water and environment.

The PI traveled to the University of Pittsburgh to seek more technical support from her mentor, Assistant Professor Brian Thomas, in designing and developing a hydrologic model to utilize for simulating water resources to fulfill the project activities. This activity was successful as they ironed out all the key things needed to set up the model. The PI's partner recommended further consultation with Prof Lo Min-Hui of National Taiwan University on the process of handling rainfall abstraction from the model before it hits the ground, a very important aspect of the project. The model will be set up on a server that will be procured for this project.

In the next 3-6 months, the PI plans to conduct the remote sensing, global data acquisition and analysis workshop, start the hydrologic model simulations, calibration and validation and lastly, host her USG partner at Makerere University.

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