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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

During the January – March 2018 period, 30% of the time has been focused on data analysis. A paper with a working title “Water use estimates across Uganda” has been drafted and continues to be worked on. On the other hand, 50% of the time has been put into generating training material for the remote sensing and hydrologic modelling workshops to be run during the last two weeks of May. The material has been mostly in form of codes to run for data analysis or model runs over selected basins in Uganda. In these workshops the PEER team will train participants in downloading and analyzing relevant NASA satellite data for water resources. During the remote sensing for water resources workshop, they shall cover topics including: Precipitation Remote Sensing, flood monitoring and prediction using satellites, remote sensing for Evapotranspiration, and remote sensing for groundwater management, remote sensing for drought monitoring and remote sensing of soil moisture monitoring. The hydrologic modeling workshop will train students in running the SWAT and Community Land Model and evaluating of model output. Thus data from the different satellites has been downloaded and extracted for Uganda. Forcing datasets for the hydrologic models has been sought and organized. A users’ manual is being developed that will help guide the participants through the workshops. These workshops are meant for capacity building.

During this period, a call for Msc. students to apply to join the project was issued and one student has been identified and recruited into the 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.

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