Back in 2004, UNHCR mandated UNITAR-UNOSAT to use its satellite imagery expertise to identify ground-water resources in Chad. Based on this mapping drilling could take place to bring much needed water resources to refugees from Darfur and to Chad´s rural communities. As a result of UNOSAT´s analysis, there was a 40% increase in successful drilling projects carried out by UNHCR and Action Against Hunger.
Out of this initial emergency response grew the idea of mapping all of Chad´s water resources to build knowledge, support the government´s rural and urban planning strategy, and to enhance national capacity in hydrogeology and GIS so that Government professionals could better manage the country´s water resources. With these goals in mind, the Ministry of Rural and Urban Hydraulics (MHUR) of Chad began talks with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) that resulted in cooperation with UNOSAT to support the mapping of water resources at the national level. The initiative would also build Chadian capacity so that these resources are more effectively managed. The issue of water scarcity is indeed crucial in Chad. Agriculture and pastoralism concern 73% of the country´s population, make up 85% of revenue and are very much dependent on rainfalls. Establishing an active, durable and sovereign water resources management system is essential if Chad is to reach its development goals.
Consequently, the RésEAU Chad project began in April 2012 with its first phase set to last three years. The project has the support of several Chadian institutes that are directly involved, including SIDRAT, the University of N’Djamena, UNIVALOR, CNAR, and the Ministries of Mines and Geology, Territorial Planning, and Higher Education. The project also draws upon the expertise of Swiss and international institutions (Swisstopo, University of Neuchâtel, CERN)
Major outputs and activities so far include: two training sessions in GIS for government workers at MHUR; maps illustrating the nature, location and relative productivity of the various regional aquifer reservoirs ; continuing research to build a comprehensive database of Chad´s water resources; definition of a HydroGIS Master´s degree that UNITAR-UNOSAT will develop in partnership with the University of N’Djamena; and laying the foundation for the new documentation center being built in N’Djamena so that knowledge can be effectively transferred to a range of Government agencies and development actors.