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Big data, big productivity gains – is it so simple in water 
management? 
Water for Food 
Seattle, October 2014 
Jeremy Bi...
How transferable are ‘first-world’ solutions… 
… is there scope for ‘leapfrogging’
Drones for monitoring 
Photos: CIP 
U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I...
Satellite 
controlled 
water 
management?
Pennan Chinnasamy, IWMI 
GRACE – Similar opportunities in 
emerging economies 
Monitoring of recharge dams, Gujarat 
U N I...
Drought Monitoring in Sri Lanka 
• SPEI (Standardised Precipitation – 
Evapotranspiration Index) to 
determine the onset, ...
Big data will make a big difference … 
…but many of the intractable problems on 
water management need a better 
understan...
Informal canal diversion around automatic gate 
Photo: IWMI Cairo
‘Illegal’ interventions 
Photos: IWMI Cairo
Participatory Irrigation Management 
- mixed success and failure 
• PIM – was the paradigm 
for irrigation management 
• e...
Over abstraction of groundwater 
Perverse subsidies on 
electricity for agriculture 
led to over- abstraction of 
groundwa...
Points to the need for questioning what data we 
need to inform change…. 
….its relevance, intensity and quality 
….not ju...
Photo: Hamish John Appleby
Merti Aquifer, Kenya 
What data and how much? 
 Identify 
uncertainties and 
risk in decision 
variables 
 Compute value...
Infographic: Rachel Cramer, IWMI
Canal monitoring in Pakistan – on the ground data 
Photos, IWMI Pakistan
Ground truthing and understanding the reasons behind 
good or poor performance 
Aditi Mukherji, IWMI
Understanding trends : Feminization and ageing of 
agricultural population 
 1 million Nepali migrants in 2004 - 97% were...
Some options for… 
….incorporating gender in planning 
….irrigation management 
….natural resources management 
….flood an...
Incorporate gender diverse perceptions into landscape 
modeling 
3-D participatory mapping 
Photo: Scott Miller 
U N I T I...
Gender Mapper and Gender Profiles
Photo: Birhanu Zemadim 
Citizen Scientists 
U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D...
Global irrigation mapping: 
dramatic improvements in resolution 
2006 
Nepal 
2012 
Salman Siddiqui, et a
INCREASING WATER AND LAND PRODUCTIVITY Investing in sustainable access to supplementary irrigation 
- data underpins busin...
Using SMS to improve irrigation scheduling 
procedures - Uzbekistan 
K. Umarov WUA, Fergana Province 
Photos: IWMI 
U N I ...
Not just about data – need to re-examine 
public irrigation models 
 Analyze irrigation system 
bureaucracies and pathway...
Big data approaches 
could help with the 
development of 
sustainable groundwater 
use in Africa 
• Groundwater reserves 
...
Big data supports an ecosystems 
approach to landscape management 
• Sudd wetland in South Sudan - 
twice the size of Spai...
Historic flood analysis informs future flood 
planning 
Historic analysis available 
from 2000 Giriraj Amarnath, IWMI
Concept: Index Based Flood Insurance 
Peoples Participation 
Flood Hazard Model 
Flood Loss Model 
Flood Insurance Policy ...
Mobile Apps– Operational Flood 
Information Management 
“Project outcomes to 
target thousands of 
farmers get access to r...
Product – Water Accounting Plus 
• IWMI, UNESCO-IHE, FAO partnership 
• public domain data repository for 
monthly water a...
How can ‘big data’ improve transboundary cooperation? 
Dry season water levels, Chiang 
Saen 
Nov ‘13-May ’14 
Source: MRC
Urban nutrient balance ….waste as an asset
CGIAR Research Program 
Water Land and Ecosystems 
Sustainable intensification providing a pathway for 
agriculture produc...
WLE - Thematic and focal region focus 
Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction
IWMI - looking forward to cooperation with DWFI 
www.iwmi.org 
http://wle.cgiar.org
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Big Data, Big Productivity Gains: Is it So Simple in Water Management?

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Presented by Jeremy Bird at the 2014 Water for Food Global Conference held in Seattle, Washington USA, October 19-22, 2014.

Earth observations, computing power and mobile phone coverage offer a bewildering array of new opportunities to improve the management of water resources. They can be used across a range of scales and can increase the resilience of societies to external shocks, whether climate or market driven. The availability of processed data can short circuit current information gaps and restrictive practices. Although ‘big data’ alone may not be sufficient to revitalize agricultural water management, it is a necessary and promising step to rethinking priorities and targeting interventions.

Published in: Environment
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Big Data, Big Productivity Gains: Is it So Simple in Water Management?

  1. 1. Big data, big productivity gains – is it so simple in water management? Water for Food Seattle, October 2014 Jeremy Bird International Water Management Institute Photo: IWMI
  2. 2. How transferable are ‘first-world’ solutions… … is there scope for ‘leapfrogging’
  3. 3. Drones for monitoring Photos: CIP U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I O N Photo: IWMI GRanD Unit
  4. 4. Satellite controlled water management?
  5. 5. Pennan Chinnasamy, IWMI GRACE – Similar opportunities in emerging economies Monitoring of recharge dams, Gujarat U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I O N
  6. 6. Drought Monitoring in Sri Lanka • SPEI (Standardised Precipitation – Evapotranspiration Index) to determine the onset, duration and magnitude of drought conditions • Potential to inform inter-basin transfers , crop choice …. Drought Index using SPEI IWMI - 2014 Drought in Kurunegala District U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I O N
  7. 7. Big data will make a big difference … …but many of the intractable problems on water management need a better understanding of the changing institutional and socio-cultural context
  8. 8. Informal canal diversion around automatic gate Photo: IWMI Cairo
  9. 9. ‘Illegal’ interventions Photos: IWMI Cairo
  10. 10. Participatory Irrigation Management - mixed success and failure • PIM – was the paradigm for irrigation management • emerging evidence that PIM schemes are failing when financial support is withdrawn Region Success Failure S Asia 18 20 E Asia 7 2 SE Asia 12 24 C Asia 4 14 Source: Mukherji, IWMI
  11. 11. Over abstraction of groundwater Perverse subsidies on electricity for agriculture led to over- abstraction of groundwater 0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 35000 40000 45000 1950-51 1953-54 1956-57 1959-60 1962-63 1965-66 1968-69 1971-72 1974-75 1977-78 1980-81 1983-84 1986-87 1989-90 1992-93 1995-96 1998-99 2001-02 2004-05 2007-08(p) Canal Tanks Tushaar Shah, IWMI
  12. 12. Points to the need for questioning what data we need to inform change…. ….its relevance, intensity and quality ….not just data because it is there
  13. 13. Photo: Hamish John Appleby
  14. 14. Merti Aquifer, Kenya What data and how much?  Identify uncertainties and risk in decision variables  Compute value of additional information  Probabilistic outcomes for different groups Keith Shepherd, ICRAF U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I O N
  15. 15. Infographic: Rachel Cramer, IWMI
  16. 16. Canal monitoring in Pakistan – on the ground data Photos, IWMI Pakistan
  17. 17. Ground truthing and understanding the reasons behind good or poor performance Aditi Mukherji, IWMI
  18. 18. Understanding trends : Feminization and ageing of agricultural population  1 million Nepali migrants in 2004 - 97% were male. World Bank. 2009  26% of Nepalese households are headed by females. 2011 Census  World’s farming population is ageing – average age approaching 60  Trends towards consolidation of land in China, Korea, Malaysia… IWMI, Nepal; WLE
  19. 19. Some options for… ….incorporating gender in planning ….irrigation management ….natural resources management ….flood and drought management ….transboundary management
  20. 20. Incorporate gender diverse perceptions into landscape modeling 3-D participatory mapping Photo: Scott Miller U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I O N
  21. 21. Gender Mapper and Gender Profiles
  22. 22. Photo: Birhanu Zemadim Citizen Scientists U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I O N
  23. 23. Global irrigation mapping: dramatic improvements in resolution 2006 Nepal 2012 Salman Siddiqui, et a
  24. 24. INCREASING WATER AND LAND PRODUCTIVITY Investing in sustainable access to supplementary irrigation - data underpins business models and policy change IFPRI, 2012 FAO, 2012 Resource potential (e.g., groundwater) Altchenko and Villholth, 2014 Photo: IWMI
  25. 25. Using SMS to improve irrigation scheduling procedures - Uzbekistan K. Umarov WUA, Fergana Province Photos: IWMI U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I O N
  26. 26. Not just about data – need to re-examine public irrigation models  Analyze irrigation system bureaucracies and pathways to reform.  Reconfigure irrigation benchmarking  Explore roles of ‘new data’ in irrigation management  Re-examine storage options – surface, subsurface  Test alternative financing models  Build on successful public/private sector models Tushaar Shah, S Prathapar IWMI U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I O N
  27. 27. Big data approaches could help with the development of sustainable groundwater use in Africa • Groundwater reserves in Africa are many times greater than surface water • Mapping techniques plus ground truthing show potential Source: Karen Villholth , IWMI
  28. 28. Big data supports an ecosystems approach to landscape management • Sudd wetland in South Sudan - twice the size of Spain • Upstream hydrological construction Photo: JAXA; Analysis: Rebelo, IWMI could impact floods, which feed the Sudd
  29. 29. Historic flood analysis informs future flood planning Historic analysis available from 2000 Giriraj Amarnath, IWMI
  30. 30. Concept: Index Based Flood Insurance Peoples Participation Flood Hazard Model Flood Loss Model Flood Insurance Policy Flood map Scaled for Depth Scaled for Duration Final Index Map Flood Indexing Concept Partner: IWM
  31. 31. Mobile Apps– Operational Flood Information Management “Project outcomes to target thousands of farmers get access to right information at right time on flood risks and opportunities from flood recession agriculture” Photo: Thor Windham-Wright, IWMI
  32. 32. Product – Water Accounting Plus • IWMI, UNESCO-IHE, FAO partnership • public domain data repository for monthly water accounts of river basins. • range of ‘Accounting’ sheets such as agricultural production, ecosystem services, useable flows and groundwater depletion
  33. 33. How can ‘big data’ improve transboundary cooperation? Dry season water levels, Chiang Saen Nov ‘13-May ’14 Source: MRC
  34. 34. Urban nutrient balance ….waste as an asset
  35. 35. CGIAR Research Program Water Land and Ecosystems Sustainable intensification providing a pathway for agriculture productivity, human development and resilient landscapes U N I T I N G A G R I C U L T U R E A N D N AT U R E F O R P O V E R T Y R E D U C T I O N
  36. 36. WLE - Thematic and focal region focus Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction
  37. 37. IWMI - looking forward to cooperation with DWFI www.iwmi.org http://wle.cgiar.org

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