Satellite Based Water Monitoring and Flow Forecasting in the Niger River Basin (SATH)

2015-2019 Niger Basin

The SATH project is commissioned by the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) and will install a satellite based water monitoring and flow forecasting system for the Niger River Basin. The project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and carried out by the Niger Basin Authority in collaboration with EARS Earth Environment Monitoring and UNESCO-IHE.

The Niger River Basin

With a length of 4,200km, the Niger river is the third longest river in Africa. It originates on the Guinean Fouta-Djalon Plateau after which it flows through vast flood plains in Mali (the Inner Delta) before resuming its path through Niger and Nigeria into the Atlantic ocean. The active basin is shared by nine African states (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Guinee, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad) and the river plays a key role in the region in terms of food production, preserving biodiversity and as a barrier to desert encroachment.

Satellite-based hydro-climatic monitoring

In order to increase the frequency and accuracy of water resources data, a satellite-based water monitoring and flow forecasting system will be implemented in the basin. The use of satellite-based climatic monitoring, complementary to ground based stations, provides a very cost-effective solution to resolving real times data series scarcity issues and enhances the capability of the NBA member states in their water resources and environmental management functions.

How does it work?

The proposed system combines a Meteosat based climatic data collection system (the Energy and Water Balance Monitoring System—EWBMS), with a large scale hydrological model (LSHM). Together these are able to provide spatially distributed, daily data on temperature, radiation, actual evapotranspiration, precipitation, runoff rates and river discharge at any location in the river basin. Therefore, besides river flow, the system also enables monitoring of drought and desertification. In addition, crop water requirements can be determined, supporting proper decision making and water allocation in agriculture.