Delft, The Netherlands, 04 Mar 2022

WaPOR: Open data for better water management

Hackathons, research, and support to business ideas: those are some ways IHE Delft and partners support the use of WaPOR, an open-access portal that makes water productivity data derived from remote sensing available to all. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) together with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and IHE Delft created the portal and underlying database to support the production of more food using less water


One of the winning teams in the IHE Delft-organized November 2020 hackathon titled “From Database to Application” continued with the development of a QGIS plugin to make WaPOR data easily accessible for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) users. Team member and IHE Delft alumna Natalia Cardenas Nino presented the WAPlugin at the FOSS4G conferences in Buenos Aires and the Netherlands in October 2021. In the same month, version 1.0 of the plugin was launched and became available in the official QGIS plugins repository.

The plugin creates a bridge between WaPOR information and QGIS, and offers tools to download and process the data. This enables users to determine agriculture’s impact on water resources, for example by calculating water accounting and productivity indicators, including the overall consumed ratio, the depleted fraction and the overall field application ratio. In this way, the plugin can be used to identify issues that are important to policymakers, irrigation scheme managers, river basin authorities and other water professionals.

Version 2.0 of the plugin, which features improvements and bug fixes, will be launched during a live stream on YouTube on Open Data Day 2022, March 5 at 14.00 to 15.00 hrs. (CET).

Student research

WaPOR also is a useful for resource for IHE Delft MSc students in their thesis research, who use open access tools and standardized scripts developed by the WaterPIP project. This research has resulted in several academic journal articles, including one that  analyses land and water productivity and irrigation performance indicators, one that uses  diagnostic analyses to  understand the reasons for low productivity and one on yield prediction models.

This year, IHE Delft MSc students are using WaPOR for research in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Rwanda and Sudan, and PhD candidate Bich Tran is conducting research to evaluate the uncertainty of the WaPOR data.

Knowledge hubs and service centers

Through the Water Productivity in Practice (WaterPIP) project partners in various countries collaborated to increase use of the open access tools and to translate them into actionable recommendations.

WaterPIP Knowledge Hubs -   Jomo Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya; Ethiopian Construction Design and Supervision Works Corporation (ECDSWCo), Ethiopia, and  Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt – train local stakeholders in using WaPOR. They also use knowledge derived from WaPOR to design and execute field work to validate assessments.  

WaterPIP Service Centers – Association of Irrigation Acceleration Platform (AIAP), Kenya; The Ethiopian Construction Design and Supervision Works Corporation (ECDSWCo), Ethiopia, and  Hydro Agriculture Service Centers, Sudan – aim  to identify potential use  of WaPOR data. Together with WaterPIP partners, they co-design, develop and build custom applications that are scalable and have a business market.

The centers are evaluating three business ideas for potential implementation:

  • Commercializing irrigation performance assessments (Ethiopia),
  • Early assessment of crop damage, catering to insurance companies (Sudan),
  • Bumper harvest, early prediction of crop yield, focusing on maize (Kenya).

Activities planned for coming months include an open course on water productivity in practice (April 2022) and an open course on water accounting (May 2022). The next WaPOR hackathon will be held later in the year. 

Related Story: WAPOR: Putting open data and education into action


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