20.09.2015 - Natural Sciences Sector

OpenWater: open source tools for water management

© UNESCO OpenWater symposium and workshops, 2015.

Open source tools are seen as important to both research and practice in the management of water resources. Tools and models provide researchers and planners with the ability to improve the management of the water resources. An OpenWater symposium was organized on 16-17 September 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to share experiences, tools, training materials and model codes applicable in the water domain. It provided an opportunity to discuss emerging open source tools, as well as the initiatives to initiate open standards and interfaces.

In Africa, the capacity for assessment and planning is becoming all the more critical with increased demands on water from agriculture, industry and a growing population, as well as concerns over potential impact of climate change, declining water quality, and environmental impact of commercial farming and urbanization. However, most African researcher institutions and development implementing agencies and organizations are unable to access many of the tools available that would enable them to conduct effective research for analysis and planning. In addition, the capacity to use existing tools is also low. At the same time, new tools are being developed to be accessible to all – open source tools. While this offers promise for users in Africa, these users remain largely disconnected from developers. The disconnects is leading to a lack of awareness of tools available, continued low capacity on how to use the tools, and at times, mismatch between the tools developed and what is needed to optimise the use of water in relation to environmental protection, food security, energy protections and many other demands. By organising the 3rd OpenWater symposium in Africa, we hope to highlight models and tools that are overcoming existing gaps in water management, such as with gender and nutrition balances.

The symposium included 50 oral presentations and posters. The main outcomes included:

  • Engaging the private sector;
  • Raising awareness at the global level to stimulate the use of the FOSS;
  • Supporting the OpenWater Community Development Network (CDN) and connect resources to the people who need them (e.g social media);
  • Seeking support for Start-ups of new Water Open Source initiatives.

The Next OpenWater Symposium will take place in 2017. The symposium was organized in the framework of the HOPE Initiative.

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