Water Productivity Hackathons

What is a water productivity hackathon?

Hacking is creative problem solving. During a 24 hour event a group of brilliant minds creatively start breakthroughs in water management. Through pitches, mini-workshops, and consultation sessions, teams work on a range of topics to develop strong concepts and initiate the development of high potential mobile applications based on the WaPOR database and other open access databases.

For 24 hours, teams of 4-6 individuals (with diverse background) take out their laptops and dive into problem solving. Resource persons are available throughout the event to provide the necessary information. The winning team will be awarded with a prize.

Why a hackathon on Water Productivity?

Did you know that in the coming 10 to 40 years will see major challenges in meeting demand for food, fiber and fodder?
Did you know that food demand will rise by 60% by 2050 and fiber by 80-95%?
Did you know that agriculture is by far the world’s largest water user with 70% of total water withdrawn per year?

The limits to using new water have been largely reached, and competition between uses and users is increasing. Moreover, other sectors demand more water to be ‘freed up’ from the agricultural sector.

At the same time climate change, including extreme weather events, will impact food production in several ways: unreliable rainfall, higher weed growth due to rising CO2 levels, and a larger incidence of pests may slow down agricultural productivity. Also, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture – already 14% of the global total – are likely to increase unless farming is transformed.

This is why we need improved agricultural water productivity. Freeing up water now, locked in current low productivity uses, will ensure that water will remain available in the future to meet the increased demand for food, fodder and fiber as well as other uses and will reduce the risk of conflict.

Water Productivity and WaPOR

Water Productivity is an indicator that links agriculture yield with the amount of water that had been consumed for its production (kg/m3). Assessing land and water productivity gaps are complex tasks that include the monitoring of current level of productivity in various crop production systems, the comparison of such levels to potential ones, the analysis of underlying causes of the productivity gaps and the evaluation of options and workable solutions to reduce productivity gaps in different contexts.

The WaPOR data portal, developed by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) is a tool that uses satellite data to monitor agricultural land- and water productivity throughout Africa and the Near East. The ability to monitor in near real time aims to assist relevant stakeholders in identifying water productivity gaps, proposing solutions to reduce these gaps to contribute to a sustainable increase of agricultural production and thus food security. In addition, the database will contribute to a more sustainable, productive and climate change resilient way of practicing agriculture, with a reduced impact on the environment in general and on fresh water resources.

Three different datasets (called ‘levels’) will be produced, comprising of several data components. A beta release of WaPOR was launched on 20 April 2017 and provides Actual Evapotranspiration and Net Primary Productivity (Biomass) data with a spatial resolution of 250m (Level I). In a later stage, WaPOR will also provide data at 100 meter resolution (Level II) for some selected countries and river basins, as well as data for selected areas at 30 meter resolution (Level III). Actual Evapotranspiration, Net Primary Productivity, Land cover classification and Above Ground Biomass production will be produced at all three levels.

More information can be found here and WaPOR can be accessed here.


On October 17th, 2017 The Great Egyptian Water Productivity Hackathon was held in Cairo, Egypt. 40 participants teamed up in 5 groups and worked for 24 hours to develop solution that were based on (though not limited to) the WaPOR database. The first hours were spent on understanding the basics of the main water challenges in Egypt and Water Productivity, and on group formation.

The event was opened by Dr. Walid Hakiki (Ministry of Water and Irrigation) and immediately followed by professor Ashraf Ghanem (Cairo University, Faculty of Engineering) who introduced the main challenges on water management in Egypt (download presentation).

Gijs Simons (Future Water) presented the basics on water productivity (download presentation) and Mechteld Andriesen (E-leaf) explained the basic concepts of crop production (download presentation), the WaPOR database and example cases (download presentation).

Henry van Burgstede en Sergio Bogazzi (IT experts, FAO Italy) were called in to explain more about the technicalities of the API’s used in WaPOR database.

The groups worked throughout the night with regular breaks (stand up comedy, Yoga sessions, videos). In the morning all groups presented their solutions in front of a jury, consisting of: Walid Hakiki (Ministry of Water and irrigation, Egypt), Job Kleijn (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands), Joost Geijers (Embassy Kingdom of the Netherlands), Mohamed El Ramly (Faculty of Computers and Information, Cairo University), and Pasquale Steduto (FAO).

The winning team was awarded with prize money and is invited by FAO to join the hack against hunger during the WSIS forum that takes place in Geneva, March 2018.

Trailer of the Great Egyptian Water Productivity Hackathon

Water Productivity  
October 5, 2017  
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