Products and Training Activities

Website. Originally developed with help from University of Arizona’s NSF funded SAHRA initiative, this is a key platform for information dissemination and includes information resources, and the home for G-WADI network projects listed below. The site also provides access to software and software libraries. The two primary activities supported by UNESCO have been related to the development of two websites:

  • Developed at the University of Arizona, the primary purpose of this site is to serve as the main conduit of information for all G-WADI activities and information. Regional secretariats for Asia, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab States, and Southeastern Europe also maintain websites for their regional networks.
  • by CHRS at the University of California-Irvine The primary purpose of this site is to provide real-time high resolution satellite precipitation data for the user community (PERSIANN-CCS). Elsewhere on the website are many other tools that can be used globally, from the climate data records of PERSIANN (PERSIANN-CDR), used for long-term climate studies, to iRain, a web app, and products for extreme rainfall events.

Global rainfall data. Limitations of data are a major constraint for arid areas. G-WADI promotes access to globally available, remotely sensed global data products. These include near real-time rainfall distributions from the UCI Geo-Server and latest additions are satellite precipitation estimation from cloud classification giving real time (1 hr.), 4km resolution. 

Hydrological modeling. Floods and droughts are a major hazard in semi-arid regions. Beginning with a workshop was held in Roorkee, India in 2005 where the world’s leading experts addressed the need for appropriate models to support water management in arid and semi arid areas and provided training to professionals from the major arid regions of the world. Some training materials was developed and are available on this web site, and a text on Hydrological Modelling in Arid and Semi-Arid Areas was produced and is available from Cambridge University Press.

Chemical and isotopic tracers. Environmental tracers can be used as “fingerprints” to better understand water origins and movement, groundwater residence times, groundwater recharge, salinity and pollution. This activity is central to assessment of the renewability of water in arid areas as well as identifying where irreversible groundwater mining is taking place. A workshop was held in Oxford in 2005 to provide guidance on best practice and an information resource with case studies is available through the web-site. Both chemical and isotopic (environmental) tracers are given equal weight across this activity.

Water Harvesting. Traditional water harvesting practices have existed for thousands of years especially in the Asia and the Middle East. These can be augmented by new developments and can increase the available water resource. A workshop was held in Aleppo, Syria in 2006 bringing together experts from several countries (including India, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Syria) with long histories of traditional techniques of rainwater conservation, as well as International agencies. NGOs from India who are pioneering bottom up water harvesting schemes were also represented. This was probably the first time that experience had been shared across this region. Web material is available and an international conference held in Coimbatore, India. The lead institution for G-WADI in water harvesting is the Regional Centre on Capacity Development and Research in Water Harvesting (RCWH) in Khartoum, Sudan.

Groundwater modeling. A workshop was organized in Lanzhou, China in June 2007 to review state of the art techniques for modeling groundwater, often the dominant water resource in arid areas. The management of salinity, coastal saline intrusion, and tools to support recharge estimation was also addressed. This was attended by global experts, who provided training to participants from 22 countries, and training materials developed for the web-site. The workshop aimed to further stimulate the G-WADI Asian network and has produced a follow up text on Groundwater Modelling in Arid and Semi-Arid Areas, available from Cambridge University Press.

Representative Basins. A series of pilot basins is being established as focal points in the main G-WADI regions to better understand the special characteristics of hydrological systems in arid and semi-arid regions and share globally this information. These will be managed in-country and reflect the local priority issues. Activities will relate to the G-WADI objectives as presented on the web-site. In addition, user participation (eg by local NGOs) is being encouraged and the end-user communities will become involved in the activities and provide feedback. The pilot basins will also attract further research.

Regional Networks. One of the prime achievements has been to stimulate networking across a number of regional (UNESCO) Centres. Asian G-WADI was established in March 2005 based on consensus and collective understanding of representatives from Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to confront the urgent need for increased regional co-operation for sustainable development of arid and semi-arid zones. See:

The Network is now also established in Latin America where a new Centre CAZALAC has been established in Chile (with support from the Chilean and Flemish Governments as well as academic support from Israel and Germany). To further strengthen this we plan a G-WADI meeting on Water Harvesting – where the outcomes of the Aleppo workshop can be compared with practices in the New World. In Africa, we have been able to support the UNESCO Arab Regional network based in Cairo with training material and joint meetings. We are currently exploring new capacity building initiatives in she Saharan Africa and Sahel.

Workshops. A number of workshops were organized and held by G-WADI:

  • International G-WADI Modeling workshop– Roorkee India, March 2005
  • Water Harvesting Workshop – Aleppo, Syria, November 2006
  • The International Training Workshop on Groundwater Modeling for Arid and Semi-arid Areas under the G-WADI program, Lanzhou, China, on June 11-15, 2007
  • "Water Resources Management: Practices and Strategies in Arid and Semi-Arid Zones of Asia" March 12 to 14, 2008, Turkmenistan, Ashgabat.
  • “International Conference on Groundwater Dynamics and Climate Change” in March 19-22, 2008 in Jaipur, India.
  • Asian G-WADI steering committee meeting, Lanzhou, China June 15, 2008
  • “International Symposium on Rainwater Harvesting: Bringing Green Revolution to the Dryland”, June 23-25, 2008 in Coimbatore, India.
  • Special Training for experts from Afghanistan on Remote Sensing and GIS for Water Resources Management at Lanzhou, China 21 Oct 5 Nov, 2008
  • UNESCO Joint Training Course: Geospatial Methods, Technologies, and Applications in Monitoring Land Cover, Land Use, Fire and Water in semi-arid regions Central Asia, September 19-21, 2009, National Center of Space Research and Technologies, National Space Agency, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Scientific sessions at conferences and meetings

  • The Future of Drylands - International Scientific Conference on Desertification and Drylands Research, Tunis, Tunisia, 19-21 June 2006
  • International conference on Water Scarcity, Global Changes and Groundwater Management Responses, 1- 5, December 2008, Irvine California
  • Session at the 6th GEWEX international conference in Melbourne Australia , August 2009


  • Wheater, Sorooshian and Sharma; “ Hydrological Modeling in Arid and Semi-Arid Areas”; Cambridge University Press 2008
  • Wheater, Mathias and Li; “Groundwater modelling in arid and semi-arid areas., Cambridge University Press (in press)
  • Singh, P.K; “Rainwater Harvesting: Low Cost Indigenous and Innovative Technologies”, MacMillan pp:179 (2008), (The book is published as part of the Water for Life International Decade for Action 2005-2015 and GWADI).