The technology available due to sensors is making it possible to achieve benevolent results that were formerly impossible. Information is made available with ease and precision.
Zambian authorities have recently used sensor technology to aid in resolving water shortages. Part of the Integrated Water Resource Management for Zambia (IWAREMA), funded by ESA’s MERIS sensor aboard Envisat, an array of environmental maps were generated to deliver local policy makers options for effective water resource management.
Mapping out a plan
Maps were produced from the efforts elucidating existing water resources, suitable dam locations, and land cover. The project’s primary concern is to protect Zambia’s ecosystems mainly in the Kafue flats, which grants water outlets for wildlife, agricultural activities, fisheries, and tourism.
The sensors immediately help with the water shortage, and offer long-term advantages. With access to the maps, authorities can determine the expansion of urban areas and loss of forest and agricultural areas, and assess the risk of erosion, fluctuation in water availability, and percentage of surface water (acting as preparation for early flood warnings).
The project is mainly focused on the Kafue River Basin (a sub-basin of the Zambezi River). The area is of paramount importance to the country’s economy and houses more than half of the country’s population.
Seeing into the future
More than 30 percent of Zambia’s population lives in urban areas. The rate of the county’s urbanization has surpassed the rate of infrastructure development and service provisions like water supply and sanitation. The land cover maps will depict how demographic variables will affect natural resources.
The project is a model for future efforts made around the world. The existence and availability of sensor technology decreases the likelihood of disasters such as water shortages and increases the chances of avoiding similar situations completely.
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