Uncharted Waters Research has developed a novel method to compare the costs of water saving measures against the added value this water can create, relying on detailed water accounting through the use of a high-resolution hydrology-crop model combined with the latest agricultural statistics. We assess the potential for water savings, while correcting for changes in return flows which are often used downstream. First applied to three major river basins in South Asia (Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra), we find that only a fraction of potential demand is likely to be realized at the basin level when taking into account financial constraints at current price and cost levels. A better understanding of the value of water can help understand barriers to and opportunities for up-scaling of measures tested at pilot scale. The method is scale-able and can be applied to any river basin or administrative unit of reasonable size.
Water accounting & agri-food risk
Uncharted Waters Research are experts in water accounting, linking water and food production. We can assist in water productivity analysis, including economic water productivity, and water footprint analysis. In an interconnected world, neither food nor water stops at borders; a better understanding of water embedded in food trade, including water from unsustainable sources, can help understand risks to food supply chains. Our methods have been tested and published: on water accounting (for South Asia); on virtual water trade assessments and risks (for several Gulf States).
Despite awareness of climate impacts on development, climate variability and future change have received limited attention in investment decisions. Uncharted Waters Research has ample experience in characterising past and future climate variability and related risk to water-energy-food infrastructure. Our approach is to understand the main source of climate risk, its climatological drivers and impact to development plans (see, e.g., for infrastructure in East Africa).
The flexibility to deal with climate risks at critical moments depends on proper information and the capacity to timely adjust management practices. Uncharted Waters Research has been supporting Uzbek researchers with the seasonal flow forecasts for the Amu Darya and Syr Darya in central Asia for the past ten years by providing weekly snow cover products. We also have in-depth experience in climate impact analysis and know how important it is to understand uncertainty in climate model projections when assessing risk.