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Remote sensing for water productivity

Water Accounting

Water accounting through Remote Sensing will be applied to assess the extent to which water productivity increases have an effect on different water users. Increasing water productivity upstream, while maintaining existing levels of withdrawal, will increase the productive efficiency of water use, but, at the same time, may deprive downstream water users who depend on return flow in rivers or groundwater aquifers fed from these returns. Changes in the availability of water resources and its use should be described by Measurement – Reporting – Verification (MRV) in the local river basin context. 

Water accounting will provide insight in the physical volumes and flows of water in the environment. Climate change impacts can be assessed and monitored through analysing possible increased variation or particular trends in these flows. The economic value of water services will be assessed through cost-benefit analysis. Ecosystem services of aquatic ecosystems will be explicitly taken into account as beneficial returns from water use by the environment.

In addition, the current status and future trends in both water supply and demand, in particular issues relating to governance, institutions, finance, accessibility and uncertainty will be analysed. A comprehensive view of the water resources and supply systems, including their governance and relations to current and future societal demands, is necessary to design effective water scarcity coping strategies.

This output consists mainly of water accounting/auditing which will be carried out by UNESCO-IHE with inputs from FAO. UNESCO-IHE will apply water accounting through Remote Sensing to assess the extent to which water productivity increases have an effect on different water users (including the environment). The major deliverables of this output are:

Design of a Measurements-Reporting-Verification mechanism for the land and water productivity database developed under output 1.

Quality control of associated spatial data components such as biomass production, actual and reference evapotranspiration and rainfall.

Quantifying the role of agricultural water flows (e.g. rainfall, irrigation, evapotranspiration, drainage, and recharge) in a river basin context with competing uses.

Provide a number of alternative solutions for sustaining food production in a profitable manner, also under conditions of a changing climate with lower rainfall and higher ET rates.

FAO will provide inputs to this output with regard to earlier project experiences with water accounting/auditing and especially on the institutional aspects.