man with a hose spraying water

Water Security

Water security is critical to eradicate poverty and to achieve gender equality, food security, and ecosystem conservation. Climate change and population pressures are amplifying impacts of water-related stressors and shocks, threatening the availability of water for irrigation and household use. Competing demands for freshwater both within nations and across borders pose challenges for water security and international diplomacy and can further marginalize vulnerable groups.

Through Earth observations-driven services and capacity strengthening, SERVIR helps partners increase sustainable access to freshwater and promote cooperation on shared waters.

Earth observation data can play an important role in monitoring and forecasting the availability and quality of water, including groundwater. Hydrologic models provide historical, near real-time, and forecasted data on river levels and streamflow. These tools inform the availability, seasonality, and short- and long-term changes in water, whether for human consumption, irrigation, or reservoir management. Satellite- and model-based estimates of surface water extent can give critical snapshots of conditions in water bodies large and small. For example, some SERVIR services help pastoralists locate small seasonal watering holes for their herds, others help monitor flood conditions across large international watersheds like the Mekong River. 

Long-term understanding of water trends guides authorities in designing, allocating, and operating water use projects. Observations and models of surface water quality can also inform monitoring and management decisions to protect and restore water from pollutants and algal blooms. Combining satellite and ground measurements can also provide information on the status of aquifers and groundwater extraction and recharge.

Photo credit: Herve Irankunda