Continental Africa has the highest volume of water stored in wetlands, large lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, yet it suffers from problems such as water availability and access. With climate change intensifying the hydrologic cycle and altering the distribution and frequency of rainfall, the problem of water availability and access will increase further. Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has initiated a large-scale project to monitor small to medium surface water points in Africa. Under this project, multisource satellite data and hydrologic modeling techniques are integrated to monitor several hundreds of small to medium surface water points in Africa. This approach has been already tested to operationally monitor 41 water points in East Africa. The validation of modeled scaled depths with field-installed gauge data demonstrated the ability of the model to capture both the spatial patterns and seasonal variations. Modeled scaled estimates captured up to 60 % of the observed gauge variability with a mean root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 22 %. The data on relative water level, precipitation, and evapotranspiration (ETo) for water points in East and West Africa were modeled since 1998 and current information is being made available in near-real time. This chapter presents the approach, results from the East African study, and the first phase of expansion activities in the West Africa region. The water point monitoring network will be further expanded to cover much of sub-Saharan Africa. The goal of this study is to provide timely information on the water availability that would support already established FEWS NET activities in Africa. This chapter also presents the potential improvements in modeling approach to be implemented during future expansion in Africa.
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