Open Science to Support Water Security in Southern Africa (OWASA)
Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF)
Water security in Southern African is under an increasing pressure due to hydro-climatic extremes like droughts and floods and rising water demand. There is a high societal demand to design and implement further measures to adapt to hydro-climatic extremes and to improve overall water security– including water quality, social accessibility and water governance. However, such solutions can only be designed based on a profound knowledge about local hydro-climatic hazard, geospatial features as well as vulnerability and exposure to these hazards.
The international OWASA team therefore aims at supporting local and regional decision-making towards water security and the adaptation to hydro-climatic extremes in Southern Africa. It develops high-resolution and geospatial data products to feed into site-specific water security information and the design of site-specific climate adaptation measures. The OWASA project follows a multi-scale approach to increase transferability of the results and to link local, provincial and national stakeholders as well as African universities with the international research community.
The OWASA project will support local decision making towards water security and hydro-climatic risk management through developing:
- Evaluation of open access data sets to be used for water management in Southern Africa.
- High resolution data products on hydro-climatic, geospatial and socioeconomic variables.
- Site-adequate and cost effective adaptation measures such as small reservoirs (check and sand dams), smart irrigation concepts, nature-based solutions or green-grey infrastructure to be implemented in the two pilot regions and beyond.
- Integrated “WEF Nexus” solutions to improve water, electricity and food supply like Agri-Photovoltaics and PV driven Irrigation.
- Online catalogue with adaptation measures that are suitable for Southern Africa.
- OWASA portal that allows stakeholders to view and download data, maps and analysis, interactive maps related to water security and risk of hydro-climatic extremes.
- Scientific publications of results in peer-reviewed journals (open access).
- (Digital) learning materials on water security, open source tools and data developed within the OWASA project.
- Regional university network to educate young researchers (MSc and PhD level) in the field of water security and management.
- Establishment of student exchange with German study programs and scholarships.
As pilot regions, we selected the Chimanimani district located in the Manicaland Province in eastern Zimbabwe and the Waterberg district located in the Limpopo Province in South Africa.
The Chimanimani district (3,450.14 km²) is known for its rich biodiversity and was designated to be a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve under the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program. The area is vulnerable to recurring droughts and inundations that seriously affect food and water security.
In the Waterberg district and Biosphere Reserve (332 km²), mining, agriculture and tourism are major sources of income who are conflictive water users. Furthermore, the Waterberg is a designated Strategic Water Source Area and hosts endemic flora and fauna, including IUCN Red-listed species. The main challenge is to harmonize the human demand for scare water resources with environmental protection.
Water Security in Africa (WASA) Stakeholder Information Event - online event 10.10.2022
13 collaborative projects are currently conducting research in the initial phase of the German Federal Government's long-term interministerial program "Water Security in Africa (WASA)".
Ahead of the WASA main program phase, with a focus on research and education, this online event will provide a checkpoint to inform stakeholders at program level and review current progress of these projects.
Field trip to pilot regions in Zimbabwe and South Africa, March and April 2022
As part of the initial engagement activities, an ITT research team conducted a first field trip to the pilot regions Chimanimani District in eastern Zimbabwe and the Waterberg District in South Africa.
From this initial contact, data requirements were outlined and on-site evaluation of potential pilot regions were conducted.