Sustaining Progress: The Vital Role of Flood and Weather Early Warning Systems
I have witnessed the development of early warning systems across various countries. These systems hold the potential to save lives and safeguard communities in the face of natural disasters and emergencies. However, their effectiveness often falters due to challenges related to sustainability and information dissemination. In this blog, I will delve into the critical need for sustainable projects within the realm of early warning systems and highlight the pivotal role that organizations can play in addressing these challenges. Additionally, I will shed some light on the innovative contributions of Epic Africa to the field.
The Challenge of Sustainability
Early warning systems are only as effective as their ability to operate consistently over time. The recurring issue is the lack of measures to ensure the sustainability of such projects. Many countries invest in developing early warning systems, but these efforts often falter after the initial project cycle due to a lack of funding and long-term planning. Sustainability goes beyond ensuring the physical infrastructure endures; it’s about guaranteeing the system’s functionality and accessibility to those who rely on it.Read More
Completing the Weather Information Chain
An early warning system is not a standalone solution; it’s part of a larger information chain that encompasses data generation, processing, and delivery to end-users. Ensuring a complete and uninterrupted flow of information is crucial. Challenges arise when any part of this chain breaks down, leading to delays or failures in alerting the public and responding to emergencies effectively. The solution lies in bridging these gaps and maintaining the continuity of the information flow.
Financial Sustainability: The Key to Success
The primary hurdle to achieving sustainability is financial. Early warning systems require ongoing investments to operate efficiently and maintain infrastructure. By securing funding sources, seeking partnerships, and working closely with local communities and governments, we can ensure that early warning systems have the financial stability needed to endure beyond their initial implementation.
Epic Africa’s Innovative Contribution
One notable and innovative contribution to the field of early warning systems is the work of Epic Africa. This organization brings a unique value by fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing across the continent. By connecting early warning system stakeholders and encouraging cross-border cooperation, Epic Africa is breaking new ground in ensuring a holistic and interconnected approach to disaster management. This approach enables the pooling of resources, expertise, and data, making early warning systems more robust and reliable.
Building Financial Resilience
The primary challenge to achieving sustainability is finances. Early warning systems require ongoing investments to operate efficiently and maintain infrastructure. By securing funding sources, implementing viable business models, seeking partnerships, and closely collaborating with local communities and governments, actors in the weather industry can help ensure that early warning systems possess the financial stability needed to endure beyond their initial implementation.
It is not enough to design and implement early warning systems; we must ensure their continued operation and accessibility. Challenges often stem from financial constraints.
Sustainable projects in early warning systems are not just a need; they are a necessity. They provide a lifeline to communities facing the ever-increasing threats of natural disasters, pandemics, and other emergencies. As we move forward, it’s essential that we focus not only on the initial deployment of early warning systems but on their continued functionality and accessibility. By addressing the financial challenges, maintaining the information chain, and fostering collaboration, we can make our world safer and better prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead.
Date: Monday, 23rd October, 2023
Author: Gilbert Mwangi (TAHMO)
Shape the Future and join the EPIC Africa’s Water-Energy-Food Transition Spaces
Do you consider yourself a visionary? Are you able to think abstractly into the future? Are you passionate about discussing and addressing the synergies and trade-offs around the Water-Energy-Food nexus? If so, this is your chance to apply for a spot at the EPIC Africa Transition Spaces in the Volta River Basin and in the Tana River Basin.
What are Transition Spaces?
Transition Spaces, rooted in the Transition Management Framework, act as participatory platforms where a diverse range of stakeholders can come together to tackle complex challenges. In the context of the Water-Energy-Food nexus, these spaces serve as incubators for developing and implementing groundbreaking solutions. These platforms are not just another academic exercise; they are a call to action.
Goals of the Transition Spaces
The primary goal is to facilitate robust dialogue and collaboration among participants, thereby creating a common understanding and shared vision. The aim is to produce real results, from innovative policies to actionable projects, designed to optimize the utilization and management of water, energy, and food resources in the Volta River basin and in the Tana River Basin.Read More
By joining, you will not only gain important hands-on experience but also have a key role in shaping the future of the Water-Energy-Food nexus in the Volta River basin and in the Tana River basin. These workshops offer a unique opportunity to co-create solutions and network with like-minded individuals who are equally committed to sustainable development.
Save the Dates
Mark your calendars! The first Transition Space meeting for the Tana River Basin is scheduled to take place on the 7th to 8th of February, 2023, in Nairobi. For the Volta River Basin, the inaugural meeting is planned for March/April in the Volta River basin. These initial in-person meetings will set the
stage for two additional annual meetings, complemented by ongoing online engagements, deepening the discourse and expanding the scope of collective action.
Forge the future today. Enroll now by filling out this brief form. Please note that a phone interview may be required before confirming your participation.
This project has received funding from the European Union under the Horizon Europe Research & Innovation Programme 2021–2027 (grant agreement no. 101084216).
Date: Thursday, 19th October, 2023
Author: Carlos Guerrero Lucendo (VITO)
Enhancing Local Expertise for Sustainable Development: UENR's Role in the EPIC Africa Project
In the face of climate change and growing demands for resources, the need for innovative and integrated approaches to resource management has never been more urgent. The EPIC Africa project seeks to address one of the most pressing challenges of our time – the delicate balance between water, energy, and food resources in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the heart of this ambitious endeavor is the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), playing a pivotal role in Work Package 6: Enhancing Local Expertise on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Africa.
Connecting the Dots: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus
Water, energy, and food are intrinsically linked, forming a complex web of interdependencies that impact every facet of life. The EPIC Africa project recognizes this interplay and adopts a nexus approach to optimize the utilization of these limited resources. As we confront the looming threat of climate change and escalating resource demands, the importance of understanding and managing these connections cannot be overstated.Read More
Setting Up the EPIC Africa Research Network
UENR’s contribution begins with the establishment of the EPIC Africa Research Network. This network serves as a platform for collaboration between institutions across Africa and beyond. By fostering interdisciplinary partnerships, EPIC Africa seeks to harness collective knowledge and expertise to devise holistic solutions for sustainable resource management. This collaborative effort ensures that the strategies developed are robust, context-specific, and capable of addressing the unique challenges faced by different regions.
Empowering through Training and Internship Opportunities
One of the cornerstones of UENR’s involvement in EPIC Africa’s Work Package 6 is its commitment to enhancing local expertise through training and internships. Recognizing that local knowledge and context are invaluable in crafting effective solutions, UENR offers training opportunities to individuals across the continent. These training programs equip participants with the skills necessary to analyze and manage the intricate relationships between water, energy, and food systems.
Internships offered through EPIC Africa enable budding researchers and practitioners to engage directly with the project’s objectives. By providing hands-on experience, these internships empower individuals to contribute meaningfully to the ongoing efforts to tackle resource scarcity and promote sustainable development.
Knowledge Sharing: Summer Schools, Workshops, and Seminars
UENR is at the forefront of knowledge dissemination through its organization of summer schools, workshops, and seminars focused on the Climate-Land-Energy-Water-Energy Nexus (CLEWS) framework and modeling tools. These events bring together experts, researchers, policymakers, and students, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas and experiences. By immersing participants in the intricacies of the CLEWS framework, UENR ensures that a new generation of professionals is equipped to address resource challenges comprehensively and systematically.
The Path Forward
In a world where the demand for resources continues to rise and climate change poses unprecedented threats, the EPIC Africa project provides an opportunity to innovate. UENR’s pivotal role in Work Package 6 underscores the institution’s commitment to shaping a sustainable future for Sub-Saharan Africa. Through collaboration, training, and knowledge sharing, UENR is enhancing local expertise and building a network of passionate individuals dedicated to unraveling the complexities of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus.
As we move forward, let’s celebrate the endeavors of UENR and the entire EPIC Africa project. By investing in local knowledge and nurturing cross-border partnerships, we can pave the way for innovative solutions that safeguard our most precious resources and ensure the prosperity of generations to come.
Date: Wednesday, 23rd August 2023
Author: Romeo Tweneboah Koduah (Senior Technical Officer of RCEES, UENR)
Modeling for insights – WEF interactions in the Volta and Tana River basins
The EPIC Africa project develops and makes available a fully open-source model for integrated assessment of synergies and trade-offs between resources systems water-energy-food in the Volta and Tana River basins (WP4). Through this mathematical model, the implications of different policy and development options can be quantified with a long-term perspective, until 2060. However, modeling is not done for “answers”, but rather a key method for providing knowledge and understanding of plausible effects so that better-informed decisions can be made.
River basins with hydropower not only have the opportunity to provide affordable, renewable electricity generation but also provide multi-purpose benefits such as flood control and irrigation if properly managed. However, climate change could likely lead to reduced water availability for hydropower generation, while floods may be more prominent in these regions.Read More
The EPIC Africa model will represent these complex dynamics and provide important knowledge for effective policy design and decision-making. Here, the so-called CLEWs framework (Climate-Land-Energy-Water nexus) will be used for modeling resource interactions in the Volta and Tana River basins. The work is done in several steps, with intermediate stake-holder dialogues in co-creation, as follows:
- Long-term (until 2060) optimization of investment to meet exogenously defined demands on energy services, food (incl export), and water.
- Adding geospatially explicit land-use and water-body interaction via soft-link of additional models and representation of hydropower, pumped hydro storage, irrigation, and water transport systems within the CLEWs framework.
- Confirming operational soundness of optimized infrastructure capacity via a separate.
- Adjustment of long-term model constraints and key parameters based on items 2 and 3 results.
Date: Tuesday, 11th July 2023
Authors: Professor Viktoria Martin and Shravan Kumar, KTH
VBA in the Nexus Processus
The Volta Basin is located in West Africa between latitudes 5° 30′ N and 14° 30′ N and longitudes 2° 00”E and 5° 30”W. It is the 9th largest river basin in sub-Saharan Africa, covering an area of around 400,000 km2. Its resources are shared between six countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, and Togo. Its four main sub-basins are
- The Volta Noire, which rises as the Mouhoun in Burkina Faso and drains part of Côte d’Ivoire and Mali;
- The Volta Blanche, which rises as the Nakanbé in Burkina Faso;
- The Oti, which rises as the Pendjari in Benin and flows through Togo;
The Lower Volta. It is made up of several rivers that flow directly into the Lac d’Akosombo (created by the Akosombo dam) and into the river downstream of the Kpong dam towards the sea.
The Volta Noire, Volta Blanche, Oti, and most of the Lower Volta rivers flow into Lake Akosombo. Downstream of the lake, the Volta River empties into the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean via the Volta estuary, some 100 km from Accra (Ghana).
The mandate of the Volta Basin Authority.
- To promote permanent consultation between stakeholders with a view to the development of the basin;
- Promote the implementation of Integrated Water Resource Management and the equitable distribution of the benefits derived from the various uses made of the resource;
- Authorize the development of infrastructure and the implementation of individual stakeholder projects likely to have a significant impact on the basin’s water resources;
- To develop and implement joint works and projects;
- Contribute to poverty reduction, the sustainable development of the basin’s member states, and better socio-economic integration of the sub-region.
The Volta Basin in the Water – Energy – Food Nexus process
EPIC Africa aims to support sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It aims to support sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa, by establishing and connecting a transition platform with stakeholders in dialogue, through the development of a long-term commitment tool for the water-energy-food nexus. The optimal use of shared resources will be illustrated for Africa using the cases of the Volta and Tana river basins.
VBA applied to this call by forming a consortium with research institutions to benefit from the results of the project aimed at equipping its observatory with a tool for planning and managing water resources.
Date: Monday, 26th June 2023
Author: Volta Basin Authority
ENERGY PLANNING AND MODELLING THROUGH INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT OF CLIMATE LAND
ENERGY WATER NEXUS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA (EPIC Africa) Project Blog
In the dynamic world of agriculture, access to accurate data and tools is crucial for making informed decisions. The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) is leading the way in empowering farmers with innovative solutions. In this blog post, we will explore two game-changing tools developed by KALRO: The Kenya Agricultural Observation Platform (KAOP) and the KALRO Crop Selector. Together, these tools transform agricultural decision-making in Kenya, enabling farmers to make informed choices about crop selection and optimize their farming practices.
The Kenya Agricultural Observation Platform (KAOP): KAOP is an integrated information system, combining Earth observation data, meteorological data, and other agricultural datasets. It leverages satellite technology to monitor weather patterns and other vital indicators. By providing real-time and historical data, KAOP supports evidence-based decision-making in agriculture. It enables farmers, researchers, and policymakers to assess climate trends, predict weather patterns, and make data-driven choices.
This platform facilitates precision agriculture, fosters collaboration, and empowers decision-makers in the agricultural sector.
The KALRO Crop Selector: The KALRO Crop Selector is an online platform that empowers farmers with comprehensive information on crop varieties suitable for specific regions in Kenya. It offers a vast database of crop varieties, including staple crops, fruits, vegetables, and cash crops. Farmers can access growth habits, maturity periods, yield potential, disease resistance, and market opportunities. The Crop Selector provides location-specific recommendations, considering factors like soil type, climate, and elevation. It also assists farmers in pest and disease management by offering insights into common threats and recommended practices.
Through the Kenya Agricultural Observation Platform (KAOP) and the KALRO Crop Selector, KALRO is revolutionizing agricultural decision-making in Kenya. KAOP harnesses Earth observation data and meteorological information to provide real-time insights, supporting precision agriculture and collaboration. The Crop Selector empowers farmers with comprehensive information on crop varieties, location-specific recommendations, market opportunities, and sustainable farming practices. Together, these innovative tools equip farmers with the knowledge to make informed choices about crop selection, optimize their farming practices, and enhance productivity. KALRO’s commitment to leveraging technology and data drives agricultural innovation and contributes to the growth and sustainability of the agricultural sector in Kenya.
Integrating the Kenya Agricultural Observation Platform (KAOP), the KALRO Crop Selector, and The Climate, Land, Energy, and Water Systems (CLEWs) project holds significant importance for the Tana Basin in Kenya. Firstly, by incorporating KAOP’s weather monitoring capabilities and historical data, stakeholders can better understand climate patterns and variability in the basin. This knowledge is crucial for effective water management, enabling informed decision-making regarding water allocation, irrigation planning, and drought preparedness. Additionally, integrating the Crop Selector provides valuable insights into suitable crop varieties, pest and disease management, and sustainable farming practices tailored to the Tana Basin. This empowers farmers to make informed decisions, optimize resource use, and adopt sustainable agricultural practices, thereby improving productivity, reducing environmental impacts, and enhancing regional food security. Furthermore, integrating these tools supports land use planning, conservation efforts, and ecosystem management, ensuring sustainable development and preserving critical habitats. It also promotes resilience and disaster risk reduction by enhancing understanding of climate-related risks and vulnerabilities, facilitating the development of early warning systems, disaster preparedness plans, and climate resilience strategies. Lastly, the integration fosters stakeholder engagement and participatory decision-making, allowing for collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and the co-creation of sustainable solutions tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the Tana Basin.
DATE: Monday, 12th June 2023
AUTHOR: KALRO-EPIC Africa Project Team
Balancing water, food and energy to drive sustainable development
The EPIC Africa project, which I am so proud to be part of and coordinate from TU Delft, focuses on improving water management and energy planning in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our goal is to optimize the utilization of scarce water and land resources by employing climate-land-energy-water resources and infrastructure data, mathematical models, and fostering cooperation between countries and sectors. Water is vital for drinking, sanitation, agriculture, and energy generation, and it’s concerning to see its availability increasingly threatened by climate change while demand continues to rise. I strongly emphasize that poor water management can hinder a country’s economic development and even lead to conflict between different sectors and users.
As a research project, EPIC Africa adopts a nexus approach, connecting energy, food, and water systems to shape sustainability transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Our focus areas include Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Kenya, specifically the transboundary Volta River basin and the Tana River basin. We are exploring challenges such as balancing electricity production and flood risk at hydropower dams. Additionally, we are determined to promote transnational cooperation because the current collaboration between sectors and countries is limited. I firmly believe that cooperation can lead to optimal water-energy infrastructures, shared benefits, and cost savings among nations.
In EPIC Africa, we recognize the importance of data and predictive models for decision-making. We utilise various data sources, including satellite imagery and in-situ weather stations, to optimise reservoir operations, locate new dams, and assess the impact on activities like irrigation. The work in our project has also highlighted the need for a combination of data-driven models and collaborative efforts in transition spaces, where all relevant stakeholders contribute to evidence-based policy-making.
Furthermore, I strongly argue why firsthand experiences and visits to African countries, including co-creation and transition management activities between EU and African country partners, play a vital role in the EPIC Africa project. These visits allow us to observe dam management, understand the socio-economic and policy priorities, and appreciate the vastness and diversity of the African continent. I firmly advocate against a one-size-fits-all approach to clean energy transitions in Africa and emphasize the importance of tailored solutions based on local contexts, and driven and owned by local research networks.
DATE: Sunday, 11th June 2023
AUTHOR: Dr Edo Abraham, Associate Professor of Water & Control, TU Delft
Supporting Sustainable Development in Africa through EPIC Project
Africa is a continent rich in natural resources, but also facing many challenges such as climate change, food insecurity, water scarcity, and energy poverty. To address these issues, integrated planning and management of water, energy, and food systems is essential. However, such planning requires reliable and accessible data on the availability and use of these resources, as well as their interactions and impacts.
That’s why TAHMO (Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory) is proud to be part of the EPIC Africa project, a research initiative funded by the Horizon Europe program. EPIC Africa stands for Energy Planning and Modelling through Integrated Assessment of Climate-Land-Energy-Water Nexus in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Cases of the Volta and Tana River Basins. The project aims to support sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa by developing and applying integrated modeling tools and data for long-term planning and operational management of water, energy, and food systems while engaging with stakeholders and policy-makers in a co-creation process.Read More
TAHMO’s role in the project is to set up the EPIC Africa CLEWs Data Observatory, a platform for integrating and accessing data on climate, land, energy, and water systems needed for planning and operational decisions. TAHMO has a vast network of weather stations across Africa, providing data on temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, and more. These data are essential for understanding the current and future climate conditions and their impacts on water availability and quality, crop production, and energy generation. TAHMO will also contribute to the development of the Data Management Plan and the operational optimization models for water and energy systems.
By participating in the EPIC Africa project, TAHMO hopes to enhance its mission of providing high-quality weather data for various applications in Africa. TAHMO also hopes to strengthen its collaboration with other partners in the project, such as universities, research institutes, NGOs, and government agencies from both Africa and Europe. Together, we aim to co-create solutions that can help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and improve the lives of millions of people in Africa.
To learn more about the EPIC Africa project, visit https://epicafrica.eu/
DATE: Tuesday, 16th May 2023
AUTHOR: Gilbert Mwangi
Navigating transformational change for the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Africa
The Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus is an important concept that recognizes the interdependencies between the water, energy, and food system. In Africa, the WEF nexus is particularly relevant because the continent faces challenges regarding food security, access to modern energy services, and water resource management. What’s more, all these challenges stand to be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. Governing the interconnections between these systems in a sustainable way is therefore a critical challenge facing many regions, including the Volta and Tana River basins.
One approach to managing these challenges is by applying a Transition Governance Framework (TGF). TGF is an iterative and participatory approach that aims to facilitate and manage transitions to sustainable futures. Applying the TGF in the EPIC Africa project requires a participatory approach that engages visionary thinkers and doers from across the WEF sectors, providing a kaleidoscopic look at the challenges at hand. These visionary thinkers can stem from many different organizations, including government agencies, civil society organizations, academia, research institutes, the private sector, and local communities. It also requires a strong focus on building capacity and supporting learning to ensure the process is adaptive and responsive to changing conditions.Read More
The TGF is based on four iterative phases: (1) pre-assessment, (2) visioning and back-casting, (3) experimentation and learning, and (4) mainstreaming and scaling up. In the context of the EPIC project, the TGF will be applied to both the Volta and Tana River Basin to identify the complex and interconnected challenges facing these systems and to develop integrated pathways to a sustainable future supported by WEF modeling.
- Pre-assessment: This phase involves conducting a comprehensive assessment of the existing WEF nexus governance in the Volta and Tana River basins, including identifying the key challenges and opportunities. This will include mapping the existing WEF systems, analyzing trends and drivers, and engaging with stakeholders through a survey and qualitative interviews to understand their perspectives.
- Visioning and back-casting: In this phase, visionary thinkers will come together in a safe ‘transition space’ to develop a shared vision of a desirable future for the WEF nexus in the Volta and Tana River basins. This involves identifying the key goals and objectives and
developing a back-casting plan to work backward from the desired future to
identify the steps needed to get there.
- Experimentation and learning: This phase involves piloting and testing the trade-offs involved in setting different goals and objectives, and realizing the pathways needed to attain sustainable futures. This testing will be done with the open-source WEF planning and modeling tool developed in parallel to the TGF research stream by the EPIC Africa modeling partners.
- Mainstreaming and scaling up: In this final phase, robust pathway elements (this can be social, technological, and/or policy innovations) are mainstreamed and scaled up to achieve a broader impact. This will involve working with the wider set of stakeholders involved in the project through the EPIC Africa Research Network (EARN) to build capacity and support for these approaches.
In the past, the TGF has already been successfully applied by VITO to the governance of the water system in Flanders (Belgium). The result is an array of fundamental views on a robust water system by 2050 at the latest. The TGF enabled the formulation of multidisciplinary points of view and speaks in different languages such as text, poetry, photography, and cartoons (https://h2050.be/en/about-arena).
In conclusion, the WEF nexus in the Volta and Tana River basins presents a complex and interconnected set of challenges that require a coordinated and integrated approach to address. The TGF provides a useful framework for managing these challenges, by facilitating a participatory and iterative process of transition to sustainable and desirable futures. By engaging stakeholders and building capacity, it is possible to achieve sustainable and equitable outcomes for the WEF nexus in the Volta and Tana River basins.