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News Monitoring and managing Africa’s water resources

The WOIS System and Product Portfolio is now online

2013-10 In March 2012 ESA launched at the World Water Forum the TIGER-NET project, which develops and demonstrates in close collaboration with African water authorities an user-driven, open-source Water Observation and Information System (WOIS) based on EO technology. The Products Portfolio can be accessed here, the TIGER-NET Portal provides information about the user cases and links to sample data.
With water security being one of Africa’s biggest challenges, ESA’s TIGER initiative is using satellite observations to provide local authorities with the information they need to develop this vital resource.

Africa’s Lake Chad is the main source of fresh water for over 30 million people in Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. It’s the main source for the region’s irrigation, drinking water for livestock, fishing and supports a rich biodiversity.

Despite seasonal fluctuations, the surface of the Lake Chad has changed enormously in the last decades, with high losses from the 1960s to 1980s, mainly due to climate change and increased human demand for water.

But recent assessments indicate a turning trend, with the water surface extent in 2011 nearly doubled when compared to the 1985 extent due to increasing rainfall in the Sahel, particularly from 2004 onwards. Part of this increase can also be attributed to flooding of the surrounding wetlands, which is a recurrent phenomenon in the flat costal area of the lake.

These and other results were presented in Tunisia last week at the TIGER workshop, which brought together over 100 scientists, national and transboundary authorities, water experts from 21 African countries and representatives from international development organisations.

Water security is of major significance to African countries that are subject to the effects of climate change and an increasing population, affecting the society in terms of access to drinking water, food and energy. The issue is also of political importance as many river basins on the continent cross national borders.

Satellite Earth observation provides an objective, transboundary solution to mapping and monitoring this precious resource on a large scale.

ESA’s TIGER initiative develops Earth observation applications in close collaboration with its African partners in order to respond to the urgent need for reliable water information in their countries. It also supports research, capacity building and training on the continent within both national and transboundary water authorities.

“If you look at the water resources sector in general, Africa is the continent that has the least developed water resources. This is where Earth observation technologies can help,” said Mohammed Bila from the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC).

TIGER is now promoting a new Water Observation Information System (WOIS) for monitoring, assessing and taking inventory of water resources in a cost-effective manner.

The new system integrates satellite information such as flood monitoring and forecasting, water body mapping for irrigation and livestock, lake water quality, hydrological modelling for water management and urban sanitation planning. The WOIS is currently implemented in five African water authorities (LCBC, Nile Basin Initiative, Volta Basin Authority, Department of Water Affaires of Namibia and South Africa), which use it to support their decision-making.

“The WOIS will allow us to assess environmental variables by catchment over the whole basin for the first State of the Lake Chad Basin Report,” said Mr Bila.

While doing water assessment near the eastern edge of the Lake Chad Basin, land degradation and vegetation increase caused by the war in Sudan’s Darfur region was also spotted in the satellite data.

Since 2003, over 3300 villages have been destroyed, forcing millions of people to leave their homes and abandon agricultural activities. These areas have experienced an increase in vegetation, which is evident in satellite data acquired over the region.

Many of the displaced moved into refugee camps in neighbouring Chad. These areas are clearly visible in satellite data showing land degradation, where natural resources are being overused.

Over the next few years, the Sentinel satellites will be launched as part of Europe’s Copernicus programme. They will significantly improve availability of environmental information services and provide operational data to a variety of users such as water authorities in Africa.

Earth Observation for water resources management in Africa

About 100 participants attended the Tiger 2013 workshop that was held in Tunis on 21-22 October 2013 to look at the achievements of the initiative and plan the future.The workshop was coorganised by the European Space Agency and the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) that became a new regional training center of the Tiger Africa initiative.

Tiger is an initiative of the European Space Agency (ESA) that aims to assist African countries to overcome problems faced in the collection, analysis and use of water related geo-information by exploiting the advantages of Earth Observation (EO) technology. EMWIS is one of the international partners of ESA with a view to transfer the lessons learnt in Africa to the Mediterranean area. As a result of the joint workshops organized by EMWIS and ESA in 2010 and 2012, some capacity building activities have been designed and integrated into the MedWIS project under preparation in the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean. A large spectrum of applications was presented during the Tiger workshop, a training kit based on these examples as well as the draft Water Observation Information System –WOIS- were demonstrated. WOIS is a software toolkit based on open source solution, with applications using satellite data such as: water bodies’ delineation, historical flood mapping and flood monitoring, Hydrological characterization and modelling, water quality monitoring, soil moisture estimation, etc.… Experiences and tools are gathered together in the portal. The next challenges for Tiger initiatives have been discussed during the final round table. Capacity building has been quite successful and should be continued. In order to move towards operational services that could be used by water resources managers in their daily activities, a number of tracks were proposed, in particular: proving the reliability of EO observation methods compared to more traditional approaches, ensuring that EO for water is part of governmental budget, supporting continuous dialogue between policy/decision makers and EO scientists.

Further information on EMWIS website


TIGER 2013 Workshop, 21-22 October, Tunis

2013-08 The TIGER workshop 2013 aims to present the achievements of the different TIGER components namely the TCBF, the pre-operational TIGER-Net project and the Alcantara research fellowships. Building on its achievements in the last ten years, we aim at identifying the main strengths and weaknesses of the TIGER initiative and preparing the basis for future activities.

The workshop is open to all interested stakeholders. The participant list will include, among others:

  • The scientists and water experts involved in the TIGER Research projects and the Regional Offices;
  • African water authorities, who are already active partners in TIGER or are interest to join;
  • Water experts, scientists and decision makers interested in EO technology for water resource management and related research as well as capacity building opportunities;
  • International organisations and development partners actively involved or collaborating with TIGER

The Registration deadline was September 20, 2013

Workshop programme

More information Tiger Workshop 2013 Announcement.pdf

Workshop presentations

DAY-1 21 October 2013

Opening SessionChair: H. Trebossen
Welcome Address & OSS introduction K. Kherraz, Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS)
ESA programmes and Satellites for Water Management M. Doherty, European Space Agency (ESA) 
Welcome Address & Tunisian Environmental programmes State Secretary of Environment 

International Water initiatives & TIGER partnersChairs: C. Ngangoue - B. Koetz
Capacity Building on Water Sector in Africa C. Ngangoue, AMCOW
Water Resources Management in Aftrica: ECA Perspective A. Nonguierma, UN-ECA
Cap-Net: Global Network for Capacity Development in Sustainable Water Resources Management I. Gunawardana, UNDP Cap-Net
UNESCO.s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) in Africa B. Imam, UNESCO
RAMSAR wetland monitoring - GlobWetland-Africa P. Ouedraogo, RAMSAR Secretariat
World Bank activities in the African water sector E. Foster-Moore - M. Wijnen, The World Bank
African Water Facility Strategic Plan M. D. Verdeil, African Development Bank
Euro-Mediterranean Information System on know-how in the Water sectorE. Mino, EMWIS
GEOSS Water StrategyD. Cripe, GEO secretariat

TIGER initiative & tools Chairs: A. Nonguierma - F. Palazzo
10 years of TIGER Looking After Water in Africa: Achievements & Future Planning B. Koetz, ESA
TIGER Capacity Building & Research activitiesZ. Vekerdy, ITC
The TIGER Water Observation Information System A. Walli, Geoville

TIGER Development: River Basin Water ManagementChairs: C. Rajah - A. van Lieshout
Lake Chad Water And Environmental Observatory Systems M. Bila, Lake Chad Basin Commission
Nile river water management E. Getahun, Nile Basin Initiative
Sustainable Water Use And Allocation In The Volta Basin S. Dene, Volta Basin Authority
Application of a satellite based rainfall-runoff model: A case study of the trans boundary Cuvelai basin in Southern Africa P. Mufeti, Hydrological Services Namibia

DAY-2 22 October 2013

TIGER Research: IWRMChairs: B. Imam - J.D. Silva
EO data for the exploration and support the optimal management of water in the Doukkala region (western Morocco) * K. Labbassi -N. Akdim*, Universite Chouaib Doukkali - El Jadida 
EO in Groundwater Resources Assessment of Ewaso Nyiro North Catchment Area, Kenya: Achievements and Future Planning M. Gichaba, University of Nairobi
Contribution to water resources management and climate change adaptation using remote sensing data and land surface modeling: towards a national water resources information platform in MoroccoS. Sefiani, Centre Royal De Teledetection Spatiale (CRTS)
Water reservoir mapping, Ghana * F. Annor *, Delft University of Technology
Guiers Lake Integrated Water Resources Management (Gliwarm) S. Wade, University Cheikh Anta Diop

TIGER Research: Water Quality Chairs: P. Mangara - Z. Vekerdy
Development Of An Operational System For Monitoring And Predicting The Aquatic Plants Proliferation In The Lake Victoria * C. O. Mito - E. K. Cheruiyot *, University Of Nairobi
Impact of climate change on the water quality of coastal lakes in Egypt * H. Farag *, Environment And Climate Research Institute (ECRI)
Enhancing the Sediment Transport Modeling in The Nile Basin Reservoirs M. Ali, Nile Research Institute
Hydrological And Environmental Aspects Of Wetlands In The Nile Basin (Analytical Tools For Wetlands Management) * A. Azab - J. O. Mtamba *, GIS & Modelling Research Cluster (NBCBN-RE) 

TIGER Research: Climate Change Chairs: E. Foster-Moore - M. Menenti
Supporting Forest Biomass Estimation P. Rahalagala National Environment Office
Earth Observation for Regional Water Balance Estimation and Surface Energy Balance Assessment in the Volta Basin, West Africa A. Agyapong, Council for Scientific & Industrial Research
Land Surface Temperature and Evapotranspiration Estimation using Remote Sensing: Case Study of Kolondieba-Tiendaga Basin A. Mariko, Ecole Nationale D'ingenieurs Abderhamane Baba Toure
Potential Vulnerability Of The Saloum And Casamance Estuary Systems: Implication Of Climate Change N. M. Dieng, University Cheikh Anta Diop
Flood Mitigation in urban environment using Earth Observation data: a study case in Kinshasa/DRC M. Faka, Ministere De L'Environnement, DR Congo
Programme To Develop Capacity In IWRM In Zambia * K. Banda - J. Kampata *,UNZA IWRM CENTRE, University Of Zambia
Integrated management of water and forest resources in Burkina Faso, West Africa: which strategy to reinforce results? C. W. Poda, IUCN-Burkina Faso

Round Table: Needs and Challenges of the African Water Sector Moderator: A. Nonguierma, UN-ECA
Panel: M. Bila, LCBC - H. Trebossen, OSS - C. Ngangoue, AMCOW - C. Rajah, DWA South Africa - M. Wijnen, The World Bank

Contact information Benjamin Koetz, Dr. sc. nat. European Space Agency, ESA-ESRIN Exploitation & Services Division, Project Section / Ms. Tina Butt-Castro (ITC) / Ir. Arno van Lieshout (ITC) / Dr. Zoltán Vekerdy (ITC) / Dr. Herve Trebossen (OSS) (email: ; ; ; ;
Phone: +39-06-941-80 653 fax: +39-06-941-80 552
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information ESA
Keyword(s) ESA
Geographical coverage Tunisia,
News date 31/10/2013
Working language(s) ENGLISH