Mzansi Amanzi an oasis of water management data


South African government departments will now be able to monitor over 30 000 dams, up from the 250 they can currently keep track of. This is thanks to the Mzansi Amanzi tool, which processes earth observation data that SANSA has made available for government entities.

The public facing dashboard for the Mzansi Amanzi tool graphically displays water monitoring data on a monthly basis including long term forecasts for water availability. Source: SANSA.

SANSA has signed a multi-user agreement to provide satellite derived data to government entities for the purpose of water resource management through the Mzansi Amanzi tool. The tool will also help develop the local space industry.

Mzansi Amanzi provides processed Sentinel-2 satellite data to calculate the volumes for all man-made dams levels across South Africa on a monthly basis for users to use for their needs, such as estimate usable water supply volume in a particular area. The data gives a full history of each dam in terms of volumes and area, and the full history of each catchment in terms of the surface area.

According to the State of Water report released by the Department of Water and Sanitation, South African resources are threatened by many human activities, making it imperative to track both spatial and temporal trends in surface and ground water systems. However, the report also stated that there were significant gaps in data that could lead to incomplete assessments and uninformed decision-making.

In response, SANSA has accessed an existing water monitoring service developed by two companies in the private space sector, GeoTerraImage and Ekosource. Mzansi Amanzi, now officially known as the National Water Quantity Information Service under SANSA, was developed for government entities to monitor water resources across the country.

“We did our homework, and decided to test what is out there already in the market before creating a whole new product, in line with our mandate to develop the local industry,” says Imraan Saloojee, Chief Sector and Business Developer at SANSA.

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“We went to the market through a tender process, and we found two companies that bid together who have been doing work in this area.” GeoTerraImage and Ekosource had already developed a similar tool for various SADC municipalities outside South Africa, including some tests in regions such as Australia.

“We process terabytes of imagery each month, and once we get to the 1st of a new month, we have all the images for the previous month available in these global archives for us to access,” says GeoTerraImage Director, Mark Thompson. “It normally takes us about 5 working days to upload the data and update the website.”

“Having this information about water is not only useful to the Department of Water and Sanitation, but to a whole host of entities from municipalities to river basin authorities,” says Saloojee.

The tool has been well received by government entities who will be finding a lot of important use from it, and there also has been some interest from other bodies within the SADC region. Involvement of other countries in the SADC region would also fulfil SANSA’s strategic goal of developing the local space industry as well as growing the space sector on the African continent.

Vaneshree Maharaj