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  1. 1. Amos Tiereyangn Kabo-bah, Donald T. Rwasoka, Josephine Osei-kwarteng/ International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA) ISSN: 2248-9622 Vol. 3, Issue 1, January -February 2013, pp.986-991 THE RELEVANCE OF OPEN SOURCE TOOLS FOR ENHANCING WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT IN AFRICA Amos Tiereyangn Kabo-bah1,2*, Donald T. Rwasoka3, Josephine Osei-kwarteng1 1 College of Hydrology and Water Resources, Hohai University, 1 Xikang Road, Nanjing 210098, China: 2 Green WaterHut, P. O. Box UP 913, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana 3 Upper Manyame Subcatchment Council, Box 1892, Harare, ZimbabweABSTRACT some cases, impossible to manage these resources Open Source tools have received tremendous effectively. Necessary tools needed to support decisiongrowth in the past decade. The development of making, database management, modelling and forecastingapplications in hydroinformatics, as in software of the related issues in water resources managementapplications, is important for effective water resources involves the use of software, frameworks andmanagement. However, these developed software applications. These tools are important in providing aapplications are sometimes too expensive for feasible more efficient approach to addressing the challenges ofuse by hydrologists, engineers and researchers in data collation, analysis and building of scenarios forAfrica who may not have enough financial resources addressing water related issues in purchase them. The open source movement hascreated room for water practitioners and researchers The software and applications tools that exist to supportto use and apply modelling, assessment and analysis water resources management mostly come in the form oftools for effective management, monitoring and commercial packages in this modern era. A good numbermodelling of water resources. The availability of these of African countries are predominantly facing socio-important and necessary open source tools for water economic issues such as poverty and inadequate waterresources management and development, applicable to supply. The advent of the open source tools in the pastAfrica, remains unknown. Also, the relevance, the decade has created a promising window of opportunity forcategories and the available open source tools that most countries in Africa to be able to acquire affordablecould better improve water resources management in and adaptable open source software packages andAfrica is not well documented. Currently, it seems not applications to support monitoring, planning andeven one document exists where one can easily find management of water resources. In addition, it is worththis. Therefore, this paper attempts to address this noting that, internet services for most African countriesissue and to close this gap by examining and have improved steadily. A survey revealed that the growthdocumenting available open source tools that could of mobile penetration in Africa increased from 1% to 31%improve water resources planning, monitoring and between 2000 and 2008 [1]. Since, these new openmanagement Africa. The paper presents a case of the source tools can easily be downloaded via manyestimation of evapotranspiration using a free source electronic devices, it further provides chances fortool – ILWIS Open. In general, this paper anticipates ensuring that knowledge sharing and technology transfer,contribution towards the importance of knowledge as in the use of open source applications for watersharing and collaboration in research, and resources management, can further be enhanced anddevelopment in Africa. promoted. Also, the field of hydroinformatics, which is a special area that deals with the development of applications for hydrology, and general water resourcesKEY WORDS modelling and management in Africa, can be boosted withHydroinformatics, knowledge sharing, free and open the use of such open source applications. This is because,source software, water management open source applications have the capability to be modified and adapted to suit different conditions.1. INTRODUCTIONThe 21st century has seen the growth of information Open source applications for water resources have been intechnology in all spheres of our lives. Science and use in the developed world but however, thesetechnology has advanced so fast in the past decade and, as developments are scattered and sometimes difficult toa result, has also changed the manner in which we need to track all these valuable applications. Also, there islook at the management of water resources in general. competition now between commercial and open sourceAfrica is enriched with huge water resources, but the lack applications for water management and, the commercialof the requisite tools usually makes this difficult and, in companies have more popularity and acceptability among 986 | P a g e
  2. 2. Amos Tiereyangn Kabo-bah, Donald T. Rwasoka, Josephine Osei-kwarteng/ International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA) ISSN: 2248-9622 Vol. 3, Issue 1, January -February 2013, pp.986-991users to a large extent. As a result, it seems commercial together identify problems and fix them in a shorter time.packages seem to be the best, hence causing some The voluntary users are usually scientific experts in thescholars to frown at open source tools. Notwithstanding, field.there is various research work done with open sourceapplications which underscores that, truly this new A research by Tuomi [2] showed that the interest, rapiddirection in the development of software and applications growth and growing acceptance of open sourcefor research in water resources management offers better applications may be due to the following factors: (1) nochances for a more sustainable approach to water issues in licensing fees, (2) open source applications appears to bethe coming decades. Most developed countries have seen better than commercial software due to the multiplethe relevance of open source applications to support voluntary contributions, (3) availability of source codeknowledge sharing, enhance research and improve and the possibility to modify it according to one’s needs,developed software and applications faster than the (4) room for integration of innovative ideas compared torestrictive commercial packages. This is partly because commercial packages and checking the reliability andcommercial packages do not readily offer the free will of functionally of source code. Simply, this has facilitatedthe general public to access the source code of the entry of open source applications to many parts of theapplications and hence, not offering the opportunity for world as a result of some of these benefits. Abdool [5]modifications to suit the coded methodologies in line with summarises these as the fact that open source applicationsrecently published science. This makes open source are cost efficient, flexible and stable. Existing challengessoftware and applications, a growing plus for success in of commercial software to allow for effective technologymost regions in Africa. Therefore, this paper documents transfer to developing countries like those in Africasome of the open source applications and software usually include [e.g. 6]: (1) developers of commercialrelevant for water resources management in Africa. The software and applications do not reveal valuablepaper also enumerates some of the key areas these information of packages without incentives, and (2)packages may be able to support water resources technology holders are interested more in the costmodelling, monitoring, analysis and management. recovery of inventions rather than the value of contributions by the developed application. Thus2. OVERVIEW OF OPEN SOURCE TOOLS & intellectual property rights can inhibit knowledge transfer.DEVELOPMENT However, with open source software and applications,Open source is a paradigm shift in software and users are not restricted to these challenges and hence canapplication development whereby people are organised easily use, distribute and modify applications for theirand mobilised to work jointly on voluntary basis to specific needs without any challenges. So to a largeproduce complex integrated systems for providing extent, open source applications and software are robustsolutions to the corporate and technological world [2]. regardless of the fact that they are based on voluntaryThe ability of people to cooperate, share and develop contributions [7].applications together result in faster production of suchsystems. Also, because open source movements are on This makes open applications and software an effectivevoluntarily basis, it implies persons involved are truly tool to support monitoring, modelling and managementmotivated to contribute their skills, knowledge, talent and for Africa’s resource managers and planners if adopted intime to ensure that the goal of developing an application the proper way. It must be emphasised that, mostin question is achieved. authorities and stakeholders working in water resources management in Africa already have requisite machineryOpen source applications to a large extent undermine the to support these applications. For instance, wide use offundamental economic concepts and law of; property computers and recent internet accessibility shows that, therights, labour, reduction of labour costs and the regulation adoption of open source tools for water resourcesand management of middle-men in product sales and management might be easier than a decade ago. In thisdelivery. Therefore, the growing success of open source case, instead of organisations to spend huge sums ofapplications and software is as a result of the mix of out- money to buy proprietary packages for water resourcesof-box integration of property rights around distribution modelling and management, a meagre portion of suchand sharing, and combining the enormous benefits of financial resources can be used for building the capacitieshuman zealous nature and motivation beyond the norms of users in this category. Consequently, a higher returnsof salary and labour concepts for work done [3]. can be realised with water resources managers,Notwithstanding, this out-of-box initiative in open source researchers and experts trained with skills in the use ofapplications has grown to become equally of good quality such applications. Another important thing worthcompared to commercial packages [4]. Part of the reason mentioning is that, open source applications have userfor open source applications is that, they are constantly forums that ensure that other users can assist in troublepeer reviewed by a wide variety of voluntary users who shooting and cross-moderation of the suggested solutions. 987 | P a g e
  3. 3. Amos Tiereyangn Kabo-bah, Donald T. Rwasoka, Josephine Osei-kwarteng/ International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA) ISSN: 2248-9622 Vol. 3, Issue 1, January -February 2013, pp.986-991In addition, open source applications and software are dotagwa GIS based web- http://sourceforge. OS &very different from proprietary software. Hence, a user interface watershed net/projects/dotag Free delineation and wa/who has been using commercial applications can easily parameterizationswitch to open source software with greater ease and OpenGMF Ground Water http://sourceforge. OS &flexibility. Further, the role of hydroinformatics in Africa Modelling support net/projects/open- Freecan be enhanced by the examination of open source tools for hydrogeologists gmf/ and reservoirfor hydrological modelling and scoping for the engineers.development of packages that are more relevant anduseful to the African climatic and weather situation. BlueModel River basin http://www.bluem OS & management Free3. APPLICATIONS FOR WATER SWRC Fit Soil hydraulic http://swrcfit.sourc OS &RESOURCES MANAGEMENT IN AFRICA modelling FreeTwo popular websites that usually host open and freesource software are and GRASS GIS modelling, OS & watershed Free Browsing through these and delineation andother webpages reveals a lot of applications and shows hydrologicalrecords of thousands of downloads per month by users. analysisMost packages can be used on both Windows and Linux QGIS GIS modelling http://www.qgis.or OS & g/ Freeoperating systems. It is worth mentioning that Linux is a ILWIS Open GIS and remote OS &free and open source operating window system. sensing modelling, communities/ilwis Free watershed /Table 1: List of open source tools for water resources delineation and hydrologicalmanagement analysis, evaporationSoftware/ Area of Website Open GEONETCASTApplication Application in Source toolbox for data water resources (OS)/Free retrieval and management visualisationOpen Hydrologic http://openhydrolo OS & EPANET Water distribution, http://www.epa.go OS &Hydrology Processes Free supply and water v/nrmrl/wswrd/dw Free Modelling quality management /epanet.html MAP- GIS modelling, http://www.mapwi OS &Kalypso GIS based http://sourceforge. OS & WINDOW watershed Free application for net/projects/kalyps Free delineation and hydrologica and o/ hydrological hydraulic modelling analysis,PIHM Model Semi-distribted http://www.pihm.p OS & HydroDesktop for hydrologic model Free data discovery,CUAHSI It handles http://sourceforge. OS & download,openHIS infrastructure and net/projects/open- Free visualization, services for the his/ editing, and advancement of integration with hydrologic science other modelling and education tools. Includes SoilHydrologic Rainfall-runoff http://sourceforge. OS & Water AssessmentAnalysis and modelling of net/projects/hamto Free Tool (SWAT)Modelling catchments olbox/ interface for waterToolbox resources managementNon-Point Web-based http://sourceforge. OS & [http://swatmodel.taSource modelling tool for net/projects/npsou Free].Model online non-point rce/ HEC Series Free software FreeDevelopment pollution, available for hydrology, and hydraulic and ware/ water supply hydrologic planning modelling. TheseOpenFLUID Modelling of land http://www.umr- OS & include RAS, HMS, fluxes as in Free Geo-HMs, hydrology, pollutant GeoRAS, Res-Sim, a HEC-SSP, EFA andLARSIM Runoff Simulation http://larsim.sourc OS & DSSvue. Model Free Tool for integrated http://www.weap2 Free e.php WEAP/WEA water resources 988 | P a g e
  4. 4. Amos Tiereyangn Kabo-bah, Donald T. Rwasoka, Josephine Osei-kwarteng/ International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA) ISSN: 2248-9622 Vol. 3, Issue 1, January -February 2013, pp.986-991P21 assessment and environmental and socio-economic of a particular African planning region.SWMM & Rainfall – runoff http://www.epa.go Free modelling for urban v/athens/wwqtsc/h areas tml/swmm.html It is also good to add that, most of these open source applications are also like templates for revising otherXPSWMM Dynamic modelling http://www.xpsoft Free specific needs such as building scenarios and forecasting, of storm water, sanitary and river /xpswmm/ and also have the possibility of integrating other socio- systems economic datasets into such applications (e.g. Kalypso.ARCSWAT ArcSWAT is an http://swatmodel.t Free Hydrologic analysis and modelling toolbox and ILWIS& SWAT ArcGIS extension Open). Good research implies the appropriate use of the for SWAT user arcswat/ interface applications and software that can improve the reliability, accuracy and efficiency of the research. This means thatThe table 1 is not an exhaustive list. This is because it is in African countries where governments and researchimperatively difficult to track all the open source authorities find it hard to fund specific water resourcesapplications being developed worldwide. However, the research due to sometimes high costs of software anduse of applications in this list, promises to provide applications needs, use could be made of these openappropriate tools for modelling purposes in water source applications.resources modelling and management in Africa.Therefore, whether it is catchment based management CASE EXAMPLE: SURFACE ENERGY BALANCEmodels needed or GIS based support modelling, there are SYSTEM (SEBS) IN ILWIS OPEN FOR THEopen source tools readily available for download to ESTIMATION OF EVAPOTRANSPIRATIONsupport such work. An important aspect of these open The SEBS model developed by [8] to estimate surfacesource applications is that, the source code is readily heat fluxes temporally and spatially, has been integratedavailable so that researchers and students in into the ILWIS Open as a plug in. The SEBS modelhydroinformatics for instance, can have a chance to a allows the use of satellite derived parameters such as land Students Global Open Home Grown Open Source Movement Source Initiative and Researchers Applications Applications Teaching, Learning and Training Scholars General Public Online Institutions of Higher Users Learning Forum Figure 1. Adopting open source software and applications for water resources management in Africacritical examination of the code structure, relevance and surface temperature, Normalised Differential Vegetationpossible adaptability to other sources. It is worth Index (NDVI) and the meteorological station data tomentioning here that, knowing how an application or estimate the various surface heat fluxes. In this casesoftware is written is ten times an advantage to adapting it example, the SEBS model was run for a bigger extent ofto your specific needs. In this way, open source Zimbabwe to assess and visualise for the actual dailyapplications support technology transfer to users who are evapotranspiration variation from the 13-15 June 2009not smart programmers to put such software together. (measurements in mm). For more details about how toHence, the open source applications, as shown in the derive the various land surface fluxes for use in this SEBStable, can easily be tailored to satisfy specific model, please refer to [9]. 989 | P a g e
  5. 5. Amos Tiereyangn Kabo-bah, Donald T. Rwasoka, Josephine Osei-kwarteng/ International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA) ISSN: 2248-9622 Vol. 3, Issue 1, January -February 2013, pp.986-991 undertaken in universities, polytechnics and related research institutions. This implies that the need and demand for the use of open source software and related applications in water resources management is there and high in institutions of higher learning. This also means that, the researchers and professionals with the ability to adapt, modify and with the requisite skills to understand the building structures behind these open source applications are also likely to be mostly found in institutions of higher learning. It is also very likely that this situation may vary in few advanced African countries. For the purposes of this paper, we consider institution of higher learning (IHR) to mean universities, research institutions, polytechnics and tailored programmes offered by both national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). IHR can promote the adoption and use of open source applications specifically for water resources modelling and management. Furthermore, the IHR and volunteer groups of interest for specific adapted software and applications in Africa should form forums to discuss best ways of improving such programs especially for providing specific needs for the Africa region. These groups should also collaborate with the founding developers of the program so that there is dialogue and constant sharing of new developments and possible upgrades of programmes. It is envisaged that, as more IHR adopt and use such open source applications in their research and training programmes, forming networks for the Africa region, and forums for resolving water related problems in Africa can be addressed. The fact that, internet is becoming faster in Africa and available through phones and mobile phones, can truly improve the communication and sharing of ideas to improve the use of these adopted open source applications for water management. It is very likely that, the smart brains in the IHR could be able to develop more appropriate context specific applications that integrate the African operating environment. This is very possible because students and researchers in IHR can better use such applications and software to support their reporting works, projects and thesis work.Though, there are wide patches in the results; itdemonstrates a spatial estimation of ET over the large In terms of readiness of Africa to adopt open sourcenorthern part of Zimbabwe and hence allows for a holistic applications, we believe that all necessary infrastructureswater resources planning and management in this part of to support this new system is available in the AfricanZimbabwe. This is just one example of how open source region. Also, the use of open source applications cantools can be used for water resources management. Most reduce the technological problems usually encountered inof the open source tools mentioned can be used to derive using commercial applications during water resourcemany relevant applications for water resources management. Take for instance, if one’s licensing key ismanagement. lost and project management do not have the requisite extra budget to pay for new licensing key. It implies, the4. FRAMEWORK FOR ADOPTION OF OPEN earlier work done before cannot be retrieved or continued.SOURCE TOOLS FOR WRM IN AFRICA In this case, this can be a setback to research work and the The study of hydro-informatics and related general management of water resources managementcourses in water resources management is usually projects. Another remarkable change would be the 990 | P a g e
  6. 6. Amos Tiereyangn Kabo-bah, Donald T. Rwasoka, Josephine Osei-kwarteng/ International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA) ISSN: 2248-9622 Vol. 3, Issue 1, January -February 2013, pp.986-991opportunity of students and amateur researchers in most 8. Su, Z., The Surface Energy Balance System(SEBS) forAfrican countries to have hands-on practice in learning to estimation of turbulent heat fluxes. Hydrology anduse software and applications employing the state-of-the- Earth System Sciences, 2002. 6(1): p. science and techniques at ‘no cost’. This would avoid 9. Kabo-bah, A.T., C.E. Madamombe, and D.T. Rwasoka, Estimation of hyper-temporalthe issue of learning theories without practical hands on evapotranspiration over the middle-zambezi using thethe software in IHR. GEONETCAST toolbox and SEBS. , in 12th WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium, 26-28 October 2011. 2011: Maputo, Mozambique.5. CONCLUSION Open source software and applications havetremendous potential to support to water resourcesmanagement in Africa. Africa that is already stressed as aresult of socio-economic needs can channel moreattention into alleviating poverty rather than spendinghuge large sums of money in purchasing commercialsoftware for water resources monitoring, management anddevelopment. Globally, open source tools have proven tobe of sufficient quality just like commercial software. Inview of this, the paper assessed the relevance of opensource applications, identified some applicable tools forwater resources management and developed a simpleframework for the adoption of open source applications inAfrica. It is assumed that, institutions of higher learningsuch as universities, polytechnics, research organisationsand NGOs are agencies that can act as the main conduitsof transmitting, sharing, training and educating the masseson the relevance of open source applications for waterresources management in Africa. As such if suchorganisations begin to adopt open source applications, itwill champion subsequent modification and adaptation ofsuch open sources for the tailored needs of the Africanpeople. This paper envisages a significant contributiontowards the use of open source applications for managingwater resources in Africa more affordably and moresustainably.REFERENCES1. Boakye, K., N. Scott, and C. Smyth, Mobiles for Development. 2010, UNICEF.2. Tuomi, I., The Future of Open Source. How Open is the Future, 2005: p. 429-459.3. Weber, S., The success of open source. 2004: Harvard Univ Pr.4. Michlmayr, M., F. Hunt, and D. Probert. Quality practices and problems in free software projects. 2005: Citeseer.5. Abdool, S., The theory of FOSS and its acceptance in developing nations 2005.6. Alkhatib, J., H. Arabia, and H. Noori. Open Source: The next big thing in technology transfer to developing nations. in IAMOT 2008 Proceedings. 2008.7. Bitzer, J. and P. Schröder, Open source software: Free provision of complex public goods. The economics of open source software development, 2006: p. 57. 991 | P a g e