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Innovation in progress

The solution: GLOW uses the power of data to enhance water security in Southern Africa

Southern Africa is suffering from severe drought. Together with Hydrologic and Emanti, research & consulting company FutureWater is working on an operational service that provides timely and easy access to water availability and demand across the entire Maputo River and the Black Umbeluzi River basins.

In our ‘Innovations in Progress series’, FutureWater’s water resources engineer Evelyn Aparicio Medrano tells us more about the underlying models for the GLOW project and the great power of collaboration

‘In the GLOW pilot project, we clearly show where the demand for water in the region is greater than the supply, from day-to-day to seasonal trends. On this basis, the local authorities in Mozambique, Eswatini and South Africa can make quicker and easier decisions about water management and water security in the short and the longer term.’ explains Evelyn.

One decision support system

Within the GLOW consortium, the FutureWater team – which, along with Evelyn, consists of hydrologists Tijmen Schultz and Sergio Contreras – is responsible for the models behind the forecasts. Evelyn: ‘Our role is to bring all the pieces of information together: the weather forecast, the size of the catchments, but also the availability of and demand for water at different locations in the delta. In order to do this, we use tried and tested tools. We bring all the collected data together in one decision support platform called HydroNet. This platform provides all stakeholders with an overview of the data, presenting actionable information through a dashboard. The coherent combination of the different technologies is one of the features that makes this project innovative and unique.’

The decision-makers can also run different scenarios. Evelyn: ‘GLOW is and will continue to be a forecasting service, so you always have to deal with the uncertainties in your models. This is why we offer the possibility to run several scenarios. These scenario’s predict different outcomes based on the available data and possible decisions. It enables water managers to make more considered choices for the short term and longer term by providing them a comprehensive understanding of the possible consequences of their decisions.’


Evelyn Aparicio Medrano

Across borders

Another feature that makes the GLOW project unique is that the river basin from the pilot crosses three borders. Evelyn: ‘Collecting information in Mozambique, Eswatini and South Africa and bringing it all together gives us a much clearer overview. Water managers from the three countries work together to share information and make decisions that are primarily in the interest of the entire catchment – and not just for their own area. We make this transparent and clear via GLOW, so that all parties involved can use the right information. All the stakeholders have access to the data from the other countries. It’s one system. I think that makes it a beautiful and innovative approach.’


Users are at the heart of the GLOW project. Evelyn: ‘We only started modelling after the first discussions with the different authorities in the three countries involved. Our South African partner in the GLOW consortium Emanti has all the expertise and tools required in order to bring to light this basic information. We can of course come up with 10,000 wonderful things to model and show them in our dashboard, but ultimately the question is: how does our technology help local decision-making or discussions about water management and water security? Which data do our stakeholders need in order to make decisions? We seek continuous input from the stakeholders. This is very important for the further development of the dashboard, and it’s how stakeholders themselves become ambassadors for the system.

The challenges

There are also challenges in this pilot phase. Evelyn: ‘For our models we would really like to work with data series with around 20 consecutive years, but they’re very hard to find. With a bit of luck, you have a few years of data here and there. We need to collect all this data and analyse it, in order to be able to use it. But the biggest challenge is bringing the stakeholders together. For example, we had organised a kick-off for all three countries simultaneously. But in the end, we had to settle with a separate kick-off in each country. Now we’re also working hard on inviting all the stakeholders for the Renko Conference in November, where we will demonstrate the GLOW-dashboard and its capabilities.

Further roll-out

Evelyn is positive about the further roll-out of the GLOW project: ‘We’ve already gained a lot of experience as a consortium. FutureWater had already worked with both Hydrologic and Emanti on other water projects. We know each other’s unique expertise and what the other party can contribute to a project. Now we’re working hard to ensure that data can be exchanged even more effectively and that our system can communicate with other platforms. We also have an increasingly better idea of what information the different stakeholders need.

Find out more about the GLOW pilot

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