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Source: Asian Development Bank

Satellites and Earth Observation Solutions to Water Challenges in India

Through its partnership with ESA, the Asian Development Bank has been working with the Government of West Bengal on providing Earth Observation tools that can increase disaster risk resilience and improve access to safe and sustainable water supply. About 1.65 million people in three districts of West Bengal state, India, are affected by arsenic, fluoride, and salinity. With about 85% of water in India’s rural areas coming from groundwater, some 27 million people are at risk from arsenic and fluoride contamination.

The project was of particular importance as West Bengal is considered one of the most climate-vulnerable areas of the planet. Indeed, this State is exposed to both floods and droughts notably due to the over-abstraction of groundwater and surface water systems which also causes saltwater intrusion from the sea into freshwater supplies.

Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) to improve the storage of flood water were shortlisted, and the NBS for surface storage is to develop abandoned river channels, as storage, along the river Rupnarayan. The use of satellite imagery enabled mapping of potential water storage sites and natural reservoirs where water could be collected during monsoon season and used during dry seasons. This management would both reduce flood impacts and enhance resilience to droughts.

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