ESA kicked off the second phase of its TIGER initiative at the Fifth World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. The initiative was extended at the request of African water authorities at the First African Water Week in Tunis last year.
ESA, representing the Committee of Earth Observation Satellites, launched the TIGER initiative in 2002 to help African countries overcome water-related problems and to bridge Africa's water information gap using Earth Observation (EO) technology.
Charles Ngangoué President of the Technical Advisory Committee of the African Ministers’ Council on Water said: "Today, it is clear that water governance falls within the big challenges that the African water sector must alleviate.
"Without trustworthy water information, good governance is impossible. This is why, in addition to the positive results already obtained during the first phase, we are committing ourselves to the second phase."
Water governance falls within the big challenges that the African water sector must alleviate
Under TIGER I, ESA provided more than 8500 satellite-based products free of charge to African researchers working on water-related research activities and management projects.
Nearly 100 researchers and water operators from more than 40 African countries received personalised training on the use of EO data through activities organised by the TIGER Capacity Building Facility, funded by ESA and hosted by the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation in the Netherlands.
ESA, in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, also carried out 16 development projects in collaboration with more than 30 African water authorities.
EO techniques and methods were adapted to specific user needs and the local conditions. Projects focused on different aspects of water management including catchments characterisation, water quality, groundwater exploration, soil moisture and irrigated agriculture monitoring.
One of the projects, carried out by the Centre Royal de Teledetecion Spatial of Morocco (CRTS) in collaboration with the Souss-Massa basin authorities, used data acquired by multiple satellites at different times to develop an integrated water information system covering a wide range of water-related information layers, such as surface water bodies, irrigation areas, deforestation, urbanisation and agriculture. These layers helped to characterise the full basin over time and identify the main factors that increase the demand for water.
In addition, by combining Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) satellite data together with additional information to derive geological features, soil moisture information and digital terrain models, CRTS was able to provide the water authority with valuable information to perform water extraction surveys more effectively, with significantly less time and money.
TIGER II aims to build upon this success to support African efforts to develop sustainable observation systems by using EO technology to learn more about the water cycle and to improve water-monitoring resources that will help to establish sound scientific bases for developing effective adaptation or mitigation measures against the impacts of climate change.
To this end TIGER II, which will take place from 2009 to 2011, includes a research component that supports African scientists furthering their scientific skills and the technical capacity to address the issue of the water resources in Africa. A dedicated Announcement of Opportunity has recently been opened. The deadline for submissions is 23 May.