El Kharraz - water information systems


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El Kharraz - water information systems

  1. 1. WANA water information systems to cope with water scarcity & droughtJauad El Kharraz, Information Manager of the Technical Unit at the Euro-Mediterranean Information System on Know-how in the Water Sector (EMWIS), FranceThe objective of this chapter is to highlight the role of water information systems to copewith water scarcity and drought across WANA countries. Policy measures that should betaken by WANA countries to face such phenomena should benefit from existing waterinformation systems and available water data/indicators.WANA Forum as a “Think Tank” body should be able to give recommendations for an actionplan to provide a coherent and comprehensive set of information, policy and internationaladvice and technical support to WANA countries and stakeholders that enables them tobetter address water scarcity issues at local, river basin and national levels. Amultidisciplinary approach is needed in order to consider the social, economic, cultural, legaland institutional constraints relevant to local communities, urban centers, rural areas, usergroups and administrative, public and private organizations. When reconsideringdevelopment schemes at local and national level, due consideration must also be given tosocietal and cultural changes that induce the transformation of related water managementscenarios.Data availability and reliability are of essential for the national water master plans. However,adequate data are generally not available for efficient water planning in most countries ofthe WANA region, and the reliability of some of the data available can often be questioned.In addition, absence of an accessible information system means that even some of the datathat were collected in the past are not available to the planners. Good planning depends onthe availability of reasonable amount of correct data. Thus every planning must giveconsiderable thought to what type of data are necessary, how they will be used and for whatpurposes.This chapter will also highlight the existing gaps in data items necessary to produce theidentified aggregated indicators, which are very essential for water scarcity and droughtmonitoring and management.During the last years, many organizations & initiatives around WANA region (ESCWA,EMWIS, UNU-INWEH, FAO, CEDARE, ICARDA, CIHEAM, ACSAD, etc.) made an effort toestablish regional water databases and/or information systems. Lessons learned andexperiences gained indicate clearly that the absence of a developed accessible informationsystem is the main cause of being not capable to govern the water resources, its efficientallocation as well as the mismanagement and the inefficient water use. One of those lessonsis fruit of the works carried out by the Mediterranean Working Group on Water Scarcity &Drought, led by EMWIS (Euro-Mediterranean Information System on know-how in the Watersector). This chapter is highlighting parts of it.Finally, this chapter provides some recommendations to improve the provision of thenecessary data items in the WANA region. 1- WANA contextIn the WANA region, most of the countries are facing water scarcity and the high risk ofwater shortage is generally ascribable to increasing demand despite the limited renewable 1
  2. 2. water resources (which are often of high spatiotemporal variability and affected by climatechange). In some places it is exacerbated by poor water quality. To analyze in depth thedrought and water scarcity occurrence and its extended impacts, one needs to look at theDrivers, Pressures, State, Impacts, and Response –DPSIR- associated with these phenomena.The figure 1 provides a schematic representation of the DPSIR (Driving Forces-Pressures-State-Impacts-Responses) framework depicting their cause-effect relations.Since decision-making must be based on high-quality information, knowledge and datacollection need to be improved. An information system on water scarcity and droughtthroughout WANA region should be developed, based on the existing water informationsystems in WANA countries, on an annual WANA assessment using appropriate indicators,and on information obtained from other regional initiatives & information systems (e.g.ESCWA, EMWIS, ICARDA, UNU-INWEH, FAO, ACSAD, CEDARE, COWFS-Arab League, etc.).Research and technological development opportunities should also be encouraged, forinstance by promoting development and research activities, by widely disseminating theresults of these activities and by facilitating their exploitation in WANA region.Figure 1: DPSIR framework for Water Scarcity and DroughtWater Scarcity and Drought produce a complex mix of economic, social and environmentalimpacts that are very difficult to assess in quantitative and monetary terms (data may exist 2
  3. 3. in a number of countries, decentralized in different agencies, thus making it difficult tocollected and assess). While it may be easy to obtain figures on impacts for drought events(because they are limited in time and impacting specific sectors), the impacts and the costsassociated with scarcity are largely more difficult to obtain.On the other hand, the environmental impacts of water scarcity and drought affect directlythe plant and animal species (loss of biodiversity), the wildlife habitat, the air and waterquality, while increase the risk of forest fires, soil erosion and the degradation of landscapequality. Some of the effects are only short-term and normal conditions are quickly re-established. Other environmental effects linger for some time or may even becomepermanent. For example, the degradation of landscape quality, including increased soilerosion, may lead to a permanent loss of biological productivity of the area. The socio-economical impacts (either direct or indirect) occur in agriculture and related sectors(industry, tourism etc.) which depend on the surface and groundwater supplies. In additionto obvious losses in yields in crop, livestock and industrial production, associated work loss,migration of drought-hit rural people in urban areas, conflicts between users etc. causeadditional chained effects e.g. on water pricing, credibility and reliability of country’sexports, political stability especially for transboundary water resources (Water scarcity anddrought could be a source of both conflict and cooperation in the Middle East). Finally,adverse impacts occur on domestic hygiene, public health (e.g. increase in insect infestation)and safety. 2- Indicators as tools to assess and manage scarce water resources2.1- Why collecting data and using common indicatorsThe main objective of collecting data and formulating common indicators is to ultimatelyprovide a basis for the harmonized assessment of Drought and Water Scarcity conditionstaking into account both demand, supply and availability issues (i.e. both socioeconomic andenvironmental dimensions). It is important to include the socio-economic dimension WaterScarcity is a socio-environmental problem par excellence. The process of using common dataand indicators reinforces exchange of experiences between the WANA countries, allowsclear understanding at operational level and thus facilitates the communication betweenstakeholders (indicators simplify a complex reality), provides a basis for integrated watermanagement at river basin scale, and furthermore allows assessing mitigation strategies inthose countries. Moreover, Common indicators (or Benchmark indicators) could helpefficiently in monitoring the impact of an eventual WANA Water Strategy or the Arab WaterStrategy to be adopted this year and related projects and in setting priorities by identifyingthe key influencing factors, as well as in raising public awareness on the specific problem.Based on the EEA (European Environment Agency) Typology for Indicators (Smeets, E.,Weterings, R., EEA, 1999), indicators can be classified into 4 simple groups, which are relatedto key underlying policy questions, as shown in the following table: 3
  4. 4. Type of Key policy question FunctionalityIndicatorDescriptive What is happening to They describe the actual situation withIndicators the environment and to regard to the main specific issue(Type A) humans?Performance Does it matter? They compare the actual conditions with aIndicators specific set of reference(Type B) Conditions, allowing thus a “distance to target” assessmentEfficiency Are we improving? They provide insight in the efficiency ofIndicators products and processes. Most relevant for(Type C) policy-making are the ones that relate environmental pressures to human activitiesTotal Welfare Are we on the whole They measure the total sustainabilityIndicators better off?(Type D)2.2- Water scarcity and drought indicatorsSeveral hydro-meteorological indicators and indices have been developed and it is alwaysnecessary to select a combination of the most suitable ones in order to describe in asynthetic and efficient manner the evolution of drought in time and space over theaffected socio-economical-environmental systems, taking in account the different droughtcharacteristics (meteorological, agricultural, hydrological, socio-economic) and basing theselection on specific criteria (e.g. robustness, data availability, reproducibility, capacity ofintegration of the indicators etc.). For water scarcity, it is also necessary to monitor thewater availability per sources, the water abstraction, and the water uses & demands forthe different economic sectors involved, in order to evaluate and individuate the reasonsof the imbalances and activate proper measures. In both cases, characterization of theevents should include preliminary analysis of the sources of information, including datareliability, and selection of the appropriate spatial and temporal time scale. Achieving asolid proactive management highly depends on the selected indices for the eventsidentification and the adopted thresholds for preventing and mitigating impacts.Dozens of drought indicators are actually used in the WANA region and in the world:Percent of Normal; Deciles; Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI); Palmer HydrologicalDrought Severity Index (PHDI); Palmer Moisture Anomaly Index (Z-Index); Surface WaterSupply Index (SWSI); Standardized Water Index (SWI), Standardized Precipitation Index(SPI); Rainfall Anomaly Index (RAI); Reconnaissance Drought Index (RDI); Run Analysis;Crop Moisture Index; Soil Moisture Anomaly Index; Normalized Difference VegetationIndex (NDVI); water deficit index, ‘Socio-economic vulnerability to drought’ Index; Waterscarcity Index, field monitoring and remote sensing systems and the socio-economicindicators, etc. Drought indices assimilate long time-series of data on rainfall, snowpack,streamflow etc. into a comprehensible and easy to communicate output. A drought indexvalue is typically a single number, far more useful than raw data for decision making.Although none of the major indices is inherently superior to the rest in all circumstances,some indices are better suited than others for certain uses. The current trend in the 4
  5. 5. monitoring and early warning centers is to utilize a range of different drought indices inthe context of a public information system on the hydro-meteorological variables and onthe state of the water resources.However, few indicators are today available to correctly illustrate the extent of waterscarcity at river basin or national level and its characteristics. Used indicators include acombination of simple indicators such as water use per economic sector, water balance,reservoir storage etc., while some complex indices exist in literature such as the WaterAvailability Index (WAI), the Integrated Sectoral Water Stress Index (ISWSI), and theAquastress Water Stress Index (AWSI), etc. One of the mostly used ones in the WANA regionis the Water Exploitation Index (WEI), defined as the total annual freshwater abstraction of acountry divided by its long term annual freshwater availability (LTAA) (see Figure 2). Itillustrates to which extent the total water use puts pressure on the water resource.Figure 2. Water Exploitation Index (WEI %) in some WANA countriesData Sources / ref. year of abstraction data: Algeria: Eurostat/2008, Egypt: Eurostat - 2008, Morocco: Eurostat –2003, Tunisia: Eurostat – 2007, Lebanon: Eurostat – 2005, Jordan: Eurostat – 2007, Syria: Eurostat – 2007,Palestine: Aquastat - 2007The warning threshold for WEI which distinguishes a non-stressed from a stressed country isaround 20 %. Severe water stress can occur where the WEI exceeds 40 %, indicatingunsustainable water use. Yet, since WEI is calculated at country level, a water rich area mayleverage a water stressed area biasing the national output and covering the regionalproblem. By using this index at river basin scale (disaggregated level), water saving effortscan be focused in areas of water stress and take account of the success of existing measuresand resource developments. The WEI although it does not allow for the identification of thedrivers of the problem or of the main users, it has the advantage of using for its calculationconsistent information which is collected periodically by the statistical services across theWANA countries (among Mediterranean countries).It should be noted that in the context of the DPSIR framework and for the in-depthassessment of the water scarcity and drought aspects, indicators which take into accountthe socio-economic dimension are also very important (Iglesias et al., 2009). Theseindicators can depict the main drivers (helping to understand the underlying causes of risks)and assess the effectiveness of the adopted response, evaluation thus the societalvulnerability to drought and water scarcity and its ability to anticipate, cope and respond tosuch phenomena. 5
  6. 6. Drought definitions differentiate based on the analyzed effects, meteorological, agriculturaland socioeconomic and therefore there is a need to combine indicators and indices used uptill now to observe and monitor drought with socio economic indicators that will identifydrivers, pressures and impacts of the phenomenon. Furthermore, the common indicatorshelp in the benchmarking exercises and monitoring those phenomena.The selection of the indicators is subject to data availability limitations. They should requiredata that can be retrieved from stakeholders and used to support decision making.Indicators are a dynamic system that can represent the evolution of Drought & WaterScarcity conditions over time and at the appropriate temporal and spatial resolution, thustheir reproduction needs to be easily feasible.2.3- Data management and sharing in WANA regionThe timely collection of data entered for instance into a socio-economic drought earlywarning system requires multi-tiered data coordination at the local, district/municipal, andnational levels. Central coordination is necessary to ensure standardization of field datacollection, while significant communication and collaboration between the relevant drought-monitoring and disaster-planning bodies is essential for the timely flow of information.Moreover, drought early warning systems require the participation of meteorological,agricultural, natural resource networks and professionals, as well as policy planners to bestdetermine how to act on the information they receive about water availability and droughteffects. Drought information exchange in the WANA region should be institutionalized andgreatly enhanced since it often occurs on ad hoc basis and not as a matter of policy. Droughtearly warning would benefit greatly from enhanced collaboration between responsibleministries and institutions within a country, as well as within the region. In addition,insufficient communication and collaboration between relevant drought-monitoring anddisaster-planning bodies hinder the timely flow of information essential to early warning andvulnerability assessments. Easy and unlimited access to data is crucial to effective earlywarning; it could be enhanced by the use of the web to facilitate information delivery forboth national and regional information exchange.Many countries have also worked to enhance their GIS technical capacity for droughtmonitoring and other purposes. Recent efforts have led to the establishment of newregional drought networks, such as the ICARDA NEMEDCA. The Network services severalcountries from the WANA region: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Bahrain,Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Although somecountries possess well-equipped meteorological networks and systems, a lack of adequatedrought monitoring institutions, tools, and information production and sharing on a region-wide basis has severely limited national capacities to predict and prepare for drought.Data management is a main issue and an essential one for making reliable prediction ofsupplies to formulate allocation strategies. Modern computerized data processing systemsneed to be installed, with the training and manpower development programmes that theyimply, for water data base development, for water management, and for timelydissemination of information. An integrated information system is needed to regularlyrecord and disseminate climatic data, including rainfall, and data from hydrological networksand river gauging stations as well as those of groundwater and land use planning. It wouldbe a benefit for the WANA region to establish an institutional framework for conventionalremote-sensing data program and the use of geographic information system (GIS)technology to set up the required data base for hydro-meteorology and water use. 6
  7. 7. The ICARDA NEMEDCA, EMWIS, the Arab Database on shared water resources and otherregional networks, can be used as examples to build on in meeting a crucial need. Theremust be support for regional drought networks and information exchange to streamline theflow of information on monitoring tools and technologies, on assessment methodologiesand early warning data. Networks also serve to build national capacity by promotingprofessional contacts, study tours, expert group meetings and training courses. Thus,networking provides opportunities to share experiences and lessons learned. In addition,networks can serve as focal points for regional drought monitoring, vulnerabilityassessment, and early warning, thereby supporting national drought-monitoring institutionsin WANA countries. 3- Conclusions and recommendationsWater scarcity & drought monitoring is an essential element in the decision making processfor planning proper measures of prevention and mitigation of the impacts, giving theinformation about the possible duration, intensity and extension of the events. Thedistinction between water scarcity and drought events is not an easy task due to thedifficulties in differentiating the natural impact of drought from the anthropogenic pressureand the improper management of water.There is a gap of knowledge and tools at WANA region level on the demand side of theWater Scarcity and a lack of reliable information, thus the formulation of an adequateindicators’ framework could provide a powerful tool for building a common basis for policyand decision making. In addition, data collection may be challenging. Yet, it is essential notonly to fortify the process of data collections, but the validation and quality assurance aswell, since reliable information is the basis for all assessments. Water quantity monitoring isoften undertaken on a project approach with external implementing agencies financed byTechnical and Financial Partners. It is necessary to move from a project approach to a sectorapproach for more efficient investments and water management. Data collection, analysisand dissemination are necessary for water master planning, identification of programme ofmeasures and their monitoring. It is not an easy task to reach an agreement on commonindicators between all the countries, as further exploration is necessary through pilotexercises. But the necessity to use indicators is recognized, as well as the fact that differenttypes of indicators are necessary to respond to the needs of stakeholders’ categories, e.g.politicians, managers, famers. Based on the various end users and purposes we need simpledescriptive indicators that relate to monitoring and assessment of drought and waterscarcity conditions and can easily communicate a message, but we also need moreelaborated operational indicators that can trigger response and mitigation actions. Indiceswhich relate to vulnerability may be more difficult to result with, since they may requiredata not readily available in several WANA countries.In the WANA region, efforts must be intensified to gather fundamental water data, organizethem into usable and accessible forms, and disseminate them to all who need them.Regional data collection and sharing is an important part of the rational management of anyresource. Basic water resources data must be considered, classified or withheld from othernations. Unless, nations share hydrological data, no satisfactory agreements on allocation,responses during shortages, flood management, or long-range planning can be reached.The WANA Forum members (Environmental Track) are aware of the importance ofassociating indicators with simulation tools (real-time models) and Decision Support Systemsto improve user participation in planning or during scarcity periods. Indeed, end users andfarmers are the real actors that can contribute directly to the improvement of water useefficiency. We believe also in the necessity of taking into account climate change impact at 7
  8. 8. long term, as well as considering water quality and political issues especially in the MiddleEast countries. Finally, the economic, social and environmental impacts need to be betterquantified. Impacts due to water scarcity and droughts have been hardly estimated so far.Recommended actions under the framework of WANA Forum should focus on: • Setting-up a range of indicators (including vulnerability indicators) related to the extent and impacts of water scarcity and drought, agreed by the WANA countries, • Encouraging WANA countries to organise the collection of information, according to the set indicators, • Testing these indicators at local and pilot basin levels, and demonstrating the usefulness in decision making process, mitigation and preparation plans and participatory approaches, • Enhancing the knowledge-base regarding climate change impacts and the vulnerability to them so that appropriate policy responses can be developed based on reliable data and information on the likely effects of the phenomenon and the costs and benefits of different adaptation options, • Facilitating the creation of an experience-sharing regional platform/network and start working towards the establishment of an effective WANA drought information system by discussing the steps and (financial & human) resources needed, to offer a framework for integration of vulnerability and hazard information for planners and decision makers, • Identifying and monitoring impacts of water demand management measures in terms of environmental, social and economic consequences, and • Increasing regional and transboundary cooperation and assistance to cope with emergency situations arising from those phenomena.References:Smeets, E., Weterings, R., (1999). Environmental indicators: typology and overview.Technical report no. 25. European Environment Agency, 19 ppMediterranean working group on water scarcity and drought, EMWIS/SEMIDE, (2010);“State of the art on Drought & Water Scarcity in the Mediterranean: Monitoring waterscarcity and drought in the Mediterranean - Synthesis note”:http://www.emwis.net/topics/WaterScarcityInternational Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), (2007).Drought in the Arab World.Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), (2005). WaterDevelopment Report 1: Vulnerability of the region to socio-economic drought.Iglesias, A., Moneo, M., Quiroga, S. (2009). Methods for Evaluating Social Vulnerability toDrought. In: A. Iglesias et al. (eds.), Coping with Drought Risk in Agriculture and WaterSupply Systems, Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research, 2009, Vol. 26,Part II, 153-159, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-9045-5 11, CAbdullah Droubi, (2006), Integrated water resources management is a tool for ensuringArab water security.Munther J. Haddadin, (2001). Water Scarcity Impacts and Potential Conflicts in theMENA Region, Water International, Volume 26, Issue 4 December 2001, pp. 460 – 470. 8