Friday, February 1, 2013

Nile Goblet a new open source tool for suitability analysis applied to rainwater management in the Ethiopian Blue Nile

This is my 100st post on my blog, and I kept this magic number to introduce the Nile Goblet tool to you, an open-source GIS solution, which is also the major output my two years work in Ethiopia.

Suitability analysis is a procedure within the geographical information systems (GIS) that identifies location where a given practice or technology is suitable. It is therefore an important tool for targeting  interventions on the ground and develops context specific policies.

The Nile-Goblet tool is an open source GIS software that allows to perform suitability maps easily without any prior GIS knowledge once the database is ready. Policy maker and practitioners can input their knowledge about a given practice/technology and learn from their maps. Because the mapping procedure is very transparent, users will understand and trust the resulting maps. Hopefully this understanding will allow to policy makers to move away from blanket approaches, and practitioners involve with communities based on a set of option based on scientific knowledge that fit the context.
The user interface of the Nile Goblet tool
Databases can be create for micro watershed, basins/regions or countries. New maps can be added to the tool in ascii format with WGS84 geographic coordinate system. The manual coming with the tool show how to prepare new layers in ArcGIS software or in Grass, an open source GIS software ( . 

This tool has been developed for the Nile Basin Challenge Program ( and for the Ethiopian context, where best practices for rainwater management are well known. Nonetheless the adoption of many of these practices are still low, mainly because they have been promoted in location where they are not suitable, or have not been combined with synergistic practices that would result into real benefits for farmers. Rainwater management practices therefore need to be combined at landscape scale to form rainwater management strategies. To fit the need of integrated watershed management, the Nile Goblet tool also allows to combine practices at landscape scale.  
The suitability map for mango created in the Nile Goblet tool
The tool comes with a database, that includes all the freely available layers for the Nile relevant to water management, as well as  a sample of rainwater management practices which suitability has been based on the “integrate participatory watershed management guidelines” from the ministry of agriculture (check the guidelines and

The tool has been tested during several trainings and learning event and the major key players in water management in Ethiopia could be reached out. All trainings were overbooked, and most participants have welcomed the tool with great enthusiasm. Time will show if it will truly be taken up!

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