Satellite-based Water Quality Monitoring Service

L.Victoria c

Development Problem

The East Africa region consists of fertile highlands of volcanic origin. The highlands are very important for agriculture and settlement. Due to an increasing population and rising demand for food, farming systems within the Rift Valley Lake basins (Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi) have changed from extensive to highly intensive systems over the years. High rates of fertilizer use, land fragmentation to smaller plots has also contributed to creation of less sustainable land use regimes. These issues are compounded by climate change (erratic and unpredictable rains). As a result, land use management in these areas is more challenging. One of the significant indicators of poor land use management is the quality of water in inland water systems (inland lakes and rivers). Enhancing the capacity of institutions in the region to monitor inland lakes water quality, concurrent with frequent overviews of land cover land use changes would provide opportunities for restoration, conservation and land use management. Synoptic earth observation based water quality monitoring would complement existing efforts on water quality monitoring efforts that are ship based. This would also support Trans boundary monitoring of lakes through the provision of Lake Basin information from remote sensing that complements in situ observations.

Service Objective

The objective of this work is twofold:

  1. To provide capacity for monitoring inland lakes water quality using earth observation data;
  2. Build the capacity of institutions to use earth observation data for water quality monitoring and land use changes at operational level.


Due to the trans-boundary nature of these lakes, SERVIR E&SA anticipates to work with regional institutions with the mandate to coordinate activities at a regional level, such as the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), East Africa Commission (EAC), and Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), and country specific institutions (fisheries unit/departments/ministries/universities) mandated to work on water quality assessments. Such would include the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI), and National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NAFIRRI)), and other research organization such as University of Malawi and Makerere University.