Land & Water

Knowat – Knowing water better

Towards a more equitable and sustainable access to natural resources to achieve food security


All around the world, countries are struggling to adapt their agriculture and food systems to conditions of water scarcity, climate change and increased competition between users. According to the actual trends and projections, water scarcity is expected to increase. Particularly smallholders are the most vulnerable to changes in water access and availability. A strengthened focus on water governance for agriculture and food security is therefore crucial to address water scarcity in a changing climate.

In this context, FAO is implementing the project “KnoWat - Knowing Water better” to strengthen water governance processes in Rwanda, Senegal and Sri Lanka.


  • Strengthen water governance and management processes to address water scarcity and increased competition for water resources.
  • Strengthen capacities of national water experts and farmers in Rwanda, Senegal and Sri Lanka on water resources assessment.
  • Inform the conceptual discussion on water tenure with country perspectives and experiences.


  • Develop and test a methodology to assess water resources, taking into account biophysical, socio-economic, political, legal and cultural aspects of water use, including water tenure.
  • Raise awareness about the concept of water tenure with a broader audience through outreach activities.

In order to undertake the water resources assessment and to evaluate water management and allocation options, considering the multiple needs of water users, the project builds on the following tools and methods:

  • The use of WaPOR, FAO’s portal to monitor Water Productivity through Open access of Remotely sensed derived data, to access geospatial data on the water resources in the three countries.
  • The use of AQUASTAT, the FAO global information system on water resources and agricultural water management, to get information on water use in the three countries.
  • Water accounting and auditing (WA&A) to understand the water balance, including water supply and demand, and its spatial and temporal dimensions. This will help to make better use of water-related information.
  • Water tenure assessment to understand the formal - and legally binding - as well as customary and informal arrangements to access water. Exploring the concept of water tenure at country level contributes to better understand the different relationships between people and water resources.  

The water resources assessment will focus on different aspects according to the country:

In Rwanda, several scenarios of water allocation will be explored in the context of increasing competition among water users. In Sri Lanka the project will analyze the different strategies to manage water in a more sustainable manner taking into account environmental protection, economic growth social equity. In Senegal the project will seek to better understand the interlinkages between water and land.