The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Water Resource Coordination Center has received funding from the African Developing Bank for setting up a regional water observatory, a decision supporting tool, whose role is to monitor water management at country and basin levels. DHI together with the Global Water Partnership (GWP) has been selected as the consultants to implement and secure operationalization of the Observatory and build capacity in its usage.
The EO4SD was invited to attend and contribute to the inception workshop held in Lomé, Togo on the 20th to 22nd of June 2018. A key objective of the workshop was to discuss and consolidate the around 110 indicators for monitoring and evaluation of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) across the 15 countries and transboundary river basins of ECOWAS. Once consolidated, the natural next step is the considerations on how to report on those indicators, and this is where Earth Observation (EO) can help. Through the lens of specific case studies, Dr. Christian Tottrup, from DHI GRAS and project lead on EO4SD, gave the participants an introduction to how global coverage EO data can be used to systematically and accurately measure - amongst others - the range of agricultural activities, inland surface water and water quality as well as assessing the extent and impact of floods and droughts – all of which are important aspects of the indicator framework being developed for the ECOWAS regional water observatory.
During the subsequent discussion, it was clarified that EO based information should not be a replacement for in-situ networks, but may complement them, offering cost-effective solutions for up-scaling in space and time needed to capture information in data scarce regions not covered by the conventional field measurements. Although, participants recognized the potential of EO data for IWRM, the current implementation of the Observatory does not allow for extended use of EO data, but there was a mutual consent to interact with donors to work towards greater use of EO information services in future enhancements of the ECOWAS regional water observatory.