An innovative water management tool will be expanded to be available worldwide thanks to a contribution from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
FAO has developed and used the data and information presented in a portal, known as WaPOR (Water Productivity Through Open Access Data From Remote Sensing) to provide near real-time data that can be used for a variety of applications in agriculture and water resources management.
The portal currently offers data that, at the coarsest resolution, covers Africa and the Middle East. The database-focused WaPOR project works closely with 10 partner countries to help build their capacity to use data to optimize water policy and management.
The additional funding of $4.95 million, announced today at World Water Week in Stockholm, will allow for a global expansion of the database and the addition of two new partner countries in Asia and Latin America.
“This portal is proving to be very useful in ensuring that agricultural water resources are managed sustainably.
Already in high demand, scaling it up globally is a challenge we are eager to lead,” said Lifeng Li, Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division.
As seen through the historic drought in many Asian and European countries this year, sustainable water use is a key component to achieving food security, especially with more frequent extreme weather conditions and greater water scarcity.
Earth observation technologies enable a variety of uses, including monitoring water use patterns for agricultural production, and can help ensure that this precious resource, especially irrigation water, is put to the best use.
“Water is the key enabler of the transition to sustainable food systems and better water governance is needed,” said Kitty van der Heijden, Director General for International Cooperation at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
That is the reason why we are willing to invest in open data and knowledge.
We note that WaPOR has an impact; is increasingly used by the public and private sectors” “Making WaPOR globally accessible is a very welcome opportunity and will bring improved information, including on trends in vegetation growth and water stress, to more farmers in developing countries.
development,” said Jippe Hoogeveen, team leader of the FAO WaPOR project.
What WaPOR does WaPOR processes satellite data to provide information that can help farmers achieve higher and more reliable agricultural yields, enabling the optimization of irrigation systems.
Globally, agriculture accounts for 72 percent of all freshwater withdrawn from rivers, aquifers, and lakes; therefore, it is a major user of water.
In trying to find the best way to use this limited resource in a global context of water scarcity and erratic weather events, focusing solutions on agriculture is a winning course of action.
Promoting a technological tool with near real-time information, a digital public good to improve water productivity, is a growing imperative.
, and is being implemented with herding communities in Burkina Faso and Mali and soon in Iraq. Among other data, WaPOR provides evapotranspiration data, related to a key phase in the natural water cycle consisting of water that evaporates directly into the atmosphere and water that returns to the atmosphere after moving through a plant and emerging as water.
vapor exuded by foliage.
This metric provides an accurate assessment of how much water a crop consumes during a given period, such as a growing season.
When related to the biomass and yield of harvestable crops, it offers a way to measure water productivity, which is a measure of output relative to water used as input and of specific crops in specific locations.
The tool produces maps, showing biomass and its yield per cubic meter of water.
In short, water productivity is offered at scales as fine as 30-meter grids that are updated every 10 days, with data queries going back to 2009.
WaPOR is applicable in a variety of contexts, such as in assessing of irrigation.
performance of a sugar cane plantation in Mozambique; the assessment of water resources in the Nile river basin (in a water accounting process); monitoring the impact of the conflict in the agricultural areas of Syria.
WaPOR data is currently being used in Mali and Burkina Faso, in combination with local data, to help transhumant herders assess animal feed production.
In 2020, WaPOR was presented during the “Artificial Intelligence (AI), Food for All” International Conference, where it was shown as a concrete example of the use of artificial intelligence to help decision makers deal with global agri-environmental challenges and help farmers to produce more.
nutritious food with less water.
At this year’s World Water Forum held in Dakar, Senegal, WaPOR was recognized as a Dakar 2022 Initiative project, acknowledging its real economic, social and environmental values and positive impacts on the lives of populations.
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