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Bringing the Water-Food-Energy Security Nexus to Africa | Water Energy Food Nexus, Bonn 2011

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Side Event at the Africa Water Week

04 Jun 12

Bringing the Water-Food-Energy Security Nexus to Africa

“The nexus is an important process which has been started at the Bonn conference and needs to be continued by committed people at all levels in order to effect change”. — by Nicole Kranz

Moderated by Dr. Albert Butare, former Minister for Water and Energy of the Republic of Rwanda, the session brought together policy makers and practitioners from the African continent to discuss the specific relevance of the water-food and energy nexus in the African context.

Bai-Mass Taal, Executive Secretary of AMCOW and host of the Africa Water Week highlighted the need for creating linkages between the three sectors, particularly by overcoming the disconnect between the relevant sector ministries, highlighting his own experience as Minister for Water Resources in the Gambia. He welcomed the Nexus as an important process which had been started at the Bonn conference and needs to be continued by committed people at all levels in order to effect change and profound growth impulses for the African continent.

Dr. Abu-Zeid, former Egyptian Minister for Water Resources and Irrigation and current member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation illustrated the range of issues relevant for the nexus by highlighting the importance of waste water management, when considering the water-food-energy nexus. He also advocated that now after the nexus has been well-established at the international level, there is a need to focus on country-level processes, much analogous to the South African conference held in April 2012. Dr. Abu-Zeid also stressed that many dimensions of the Nexus that we encounter in national contexts have not yet been sufficiently explored. He alluded to the competition between biofuels and food production and called for a substantive change in the production of energy plants. In addition, he outlined the implications of progressing desalination, particularly in order to assure water supply for growing cities in the MENA region and the intricate balance with regards to energy usage.

The more encompassing policy statements were supplemented by practitioners’ statements by two representatives from river basin organizations.

Dr Canisius Kanagire, Ecexutive Secretary of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission under the East African Community highlighted the relevance of the Nexus concepts for practitioners, since implementation of water policies currently is very sector-focussed. Whether dams are built for energy generation or water needs to be available for fish production, there issues are not really integrated and harnessed in order to achieve a sustainable environment. Dr. Kanangire furthermore advocated that sectoral integration should be realized from the planning to the implementation phase. To this purpose the nexus has been taken up in the strategic paper, which defines the responsibilities of the Lake Victoria Basin Organization. He also highlighted a further dimension of water as a curse, currently encountered in the region, as in the rainy season, water is often destroying food sources. In the future, main efforts of the LVBC will be focused on infrastructure development targeted at ‘harnessing water to make sure enough food is produced in order to sustain regional needs’. IWRM is one approach, which however also needs to take into consideration the issue of climate change.

Major General Collins Ihekire, Executive Secretary of the Niger Basin Authority used the opportunity to highlight the on-going initiatives in the context of the Mekong2Rio conference, which sought to showcase the relevance of the nexus for transboundary basins. He then proceeded to present activities in the Niger Basin under the Sustainable Development Action Plan. One of the actions is targeted at improving river flow in order to improve food security in the Niger basin. He also introduced the principle of benefit-sharing as a key approach for addressing the nexus challenge.

Further Reading

20 Dec 12

An interview with Jasper Oduor, Executive Secretary of EAPP

31 Jan 13

The ADIREC side event focused on the various policy and technology options for meeting future energy demand and their different implications on water resources. Already, water availability is a major constraint for the energy sector.

11 Mar 14

“We should galvanize the interest the nexus debate is generating by operationalizing commitments into concrete programmes by building strategic partnerships and alliances as we move into the future,” says Paul T. Yillia, consultant at Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

NEXUS in the Media

29 Mar 16

IFAD Social Reporting Blog

“Producing more food with less water and energy”

30 Mar 16

Humanitarian News

“Producing more food with less water and energy”

22 Sep 14

Ventures Africa

frica plans to lay out a strong case for increased investments in the water, food and energy sectors at the UN Climate Summit in New York to be held on 23 September, according to the Secretariat of the ClimDev-Africa Programme in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

19 Sep 14


Marking of 2014 as the year of Agriculture and Food Security coincides with the release of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) which strongly predicts extreme climate events such as drought and floods

30 Aug 12


Amid dire warnings, there are rays of hope emanating from around the world. People, not governments, who through ingenuity and hands on experience are creating productive farmland from arid land, fuel this hope. A report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) states there will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the projected population of nine billion people in 2050 if current diet trends continue. Amid warnings of water scarcity limiting food production, and as Oxfam and the United Nations prepare for a possible second global food crisis in five years, another report shows that there is water at the bottom of the well.


  • IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute
  • WEF World Economic Forum
  • WWF World Wide Fund for Nature

Bonn2011 Nexus Conference – in the context of Bonn Perspectives

  • Bonn Perspectives

initiated by

  • BONN
  • BMZ

funded by

  • European Regional Development Fund EFRE
  • NRW Ministerin fr Bundesangelegenheiten, Europa und Medien des Landes Nordrhein-Westphalen
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