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Sri Lanka in ADB water use remote sensing study

ECONOMYNEXT – Asian Development Bank (ADB) has chosen Sri Lanka, ravaged by floods after its worst drought in 40 years, as one of the countries to test use of remote sensing technology to better understand water usage.

The technology holds the potential of giving farmers the ability to get vital water availablity and use information on their mobile phones in the future, the bank said.

“With remote sensing imagery, farmers can be advised on measures to improve water productivity and the yield from their fields,” it said in a report on the project.

Sri Lanka had not been known as a country under water stress but last year’s prolonged drought caused water shortages for consumption and crops and led to over a million people being regularly supplied with drinking water by the state.

The severe drought in the latter half of 2016 resulted in the agriculture contracting 4.2 percent compared with 2015.

The ADB said water accounting—knowing how much water is available and who is using how much—is critical at a time when Asia is facing increasing water insecurity.

The ADB’s collaborative study with a research team from IHE Delft Institute for Water Education will use remote sensing to understand how water resources are used in project sites in six countries: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam.

Until now, projects have been developed without knowing the status of water resources within a river basin.

For example, a city water supply project being developed is designed to draw water from a river. At the same time, water is being withdrawn from the river for irrigation, industrial, and environmental uses.

“All of these uses are taking and putting water back into the river without knowing who is using how much,” the ADB report said.





“There is very little or no awareness of the total resources available in that basin and how much is allocated to various uses.

“Using remote sensing technology, for the first time water productivity can be measured right down to the farm level,” the report said.

“Remote sensing data will be available to all stakeholders. It is therefore transparent and holds the promise of improving water governance. In the future, farmers will be able to access this vital information on their mobile phones.”
(COLOMBO, June 02, 2017)

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