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Knowledge Management  

Establishing effective river basin information systems requires both institutional and technical support. Political will in decision makers is critical to ensuring that river basin information systems are properly maintained and funded, and in supporting the decision-making process.

The following key considerations for effective Knowledge Management were identified by the Global Water Partnership (2009a):

  • Collection and organisation of a comprehensive set of physical, biological, social and economic data and information on the basin;
  • Ensuring data and information relate to the basin management strategy and action plan;
  • Ensuring development of an interactive, accessible, affordable, appropriate and equitable basin information system, that allows stakeholders to access and use information in ways which suit their needs;
  • Use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and other user-friendly means to present the status of basin resources and monitor changes; and
  • Development of a basin monitoring programme that co-ordinates information from regional, state, national and local levels, and public, private and non-government organisations.

Information Systems – Angola

Modern data collection equipment means that water resources (WR) information systems are more likely to be in digital form. This is the case especially for Angola, where many systems are being recreated from zero. Digital information systems should allow more efficient and more equitable access to WR information, but clearly depend on an adequate level of IT and communications infrastructure.

As mentioned above, the war in Angola from 1975 to 2002 prevented data collection, destroyed hydrometry stations and boreholes and inevitably destroyed records. Good paper archives of hydrometry data are in existence in Angola for the period prior to 1975, and projects are in place aiming to rebuild hydrometry stations and transcribe paper archives into meaningful hydrometric records (Petterson 2004; World Bank 2008). These archives contain water level and flow data for up to 189 hydrometry stations around the country.

With respect to borehole data, a 1996 paper (LNEC 1996) refers to evidence for several hundred test boreholes in the Kunene River basin, largely in Angola. The LNEC paper also refers to plans agreed on between the Portuguese and Angolan governments at the time to develop a comprehensive borehole database, using existing test and production boreholes. This database was to be based on a Portuguese system previously created and was planned to record more than 80 borehole parameters, including data on location, use, water productivity, chemical quality, levels, land ownership and borehole depth and diameter. It is not clear whether or not the database was ever created.

In Angola, information systems to provide access to WR data need to be developed in parallel with the rehabilitation of resource monitoring systems such as hydrometric stations. The current lack of comprehensive and accessible information systems on the river basin and water resources will constrain the ability to plan for sustainable river basin management.

Information Systems – Namibia

Hardcopy Data

There are about 40 000 hardcopy records of Borehole Completion Forms of WW-numbered (specifies location) boreholes. These capture farm name and number (the most consistent way to locate land information in Namibia), borehole depth, depth of water strikes and associated yields, lithology and borehole casing material, and for more recently drilled boreholes, GPS locations. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) is the custodian of these data sets.

Some 90 000 water chemical analyses of major ions, plus some bacteriological data, are also available. In addition, about 30 000 groundwater samples were analysed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR, South Africa) during the CSIR Water Quality Project between 1965 and 1981.

NamWater reports monthly on borehole utilisation rates.

Electronic Data

There is a relatively complete set of data on the more important parameters for boreholes drilled before 1990. Changing database platforms, coupled with the development of these databases and a lack of resources and capacity, has led to a substantial backlog in the unification of these datasets. A new database (GROWAS) became operational towards the end of 2004. Most rainfall data and surface water abstraction information (dams) is available in an electronic format.

The MAWF and Namwater also rely on the hydrologic database Hydsys, using the software Hydstra.

Sound information systems are essential for maintaining a healthy environment.
Source: © Ostby 2007
( click to enlarge )

Establishing a Basin-wide Information System

Important steps towards establishment of a basin-wide information system are:

  1. Develop a suitable framework for collaboration at multiple levels and with multiple stakeholders;
  2. Establish a strategy and action plan for developing an information system; and
  3. Enact data sharing rules.

Development of a natural resources inventory is an important task of River Basin Organisations (RBOs). A good understanding of the condition, extent and trends in natural resources is required to make informed decisions about river basin management, and to understand the future effects of these decisions (IWR 2006). Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) can be then used to inform decision-making on future river basin activities.

A subsequent and equally important task for RBOs is the development and maintenance of decision support infrastructure (IWR 2006). Decision support infrastructure includes adequate information systems, decision support tools (such as SEA) and development of river basin models to understand the impacts of different scenarios in river basin management. The Institute for Water Resources (2006) emphasises the importance of decision support systems:

“These tools, if used appropriately, can enhance the knowledge level of the RBO, be used as a mechanism to engage stakeholders and provide a mechanism for prioritising natural resources management goals.”


The WaterNet Website contains information about recent research projects undertaken by network institutions. It has also developed a series of Working Papers on water resources issues and river basin management, with useful contributions from around the region.


In addition to its capacity building /networking function, Cap-Net also serves as a useful source of tools and information about IWRM. It manages up-to-date databases of courses, network management tools, IWRM references, training materials and water management tools.




Explore the sub-basins of the Kunene River

Video Interviews about the integrated and transboundary management of the Kunene River basin

Explore the principles of Integrated Water Resource Management applied to the Kunene