Everyone has a right to water, energy and food. But in a world of 7 billion people, 1.1 billion live without clean drinking water, 1.3 billion live without electricity and 1.02 billion are hungry. Population and urbanization increase demands that by 2030 we will need 30% more water and 40% more energy and 50% more food. Current solutions often treat water, energy and food security separately but they need to be seen/treated as interdependent e.g. it takes 1,300 liters of water to make 1kg of wheat.
Failing to treat water, energy and food as a nexus leads to questionable decisions. In the US, moving, heating and treating water makes up for 13% of electricity consumption. The use of biofuels almost tripled in the EU between 2006 and 2012. In an attempt to increase energy security, biofuels consume 20 times as much water as petrol or gasoline per mile covered. By competing for cropland, biofuels have increased cereal prices on world markets. Plus biofuels release GHG's methane and nitrous oxide making their carbon footprint worse than fossil fuels. (The Guardian, UK)
Water is not substitutable or replaceable. We cannot create or grow more of it. Until now, it is water that has been the least considered part of the nexus. Many countries are striking groundwater faster than it could be replaced such as China by 25% and India by 56%. Our methods of producing food and energy impact on water quality; whether it is the 17,000 liters of water per MWh that evaporate from the dams or the 50% nitrogen in fertilizers that isn't absorbed by plants, often running off into rivers.
Solving water security issues could create food security issues elsewhere. The promotion of food security has been adopted as policy in many countries and regions, and while increasing area under irrigated agriculture is clearly encouraged as a means to achieving food security it is often forgotten that water; and several times sustainable energy are also critical for food security. In Kenya water is critical for energy security; at the same time there are areas where water for irrigated agriculture won't be available without energy for pumped supply. Energy production requires massive quantities of water and most water distribution processes use large amounts of energy.
A report by the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG), 2010, cites cumulative poor rains in the country as a major cause of food and water insecurity. This situation is particularly worse for the urban poor who dwell in slums. About 45% of slum dwellers have no access to safe drinking water and food. Due to failing rains, 2.4 million Kenyan pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and marginal farm households are food and water insecure often leading to recurring conflicts. These regions are also energy poor. Overall, about 1/3 of Kenya's population is food insecure.
Appreciating that water, food and energy are inextricably linked, and that actions in one area more often than not have impacts in one or both of the others, will necessitate a common approach to their management.
One of the strategy of Kenya's economic development blueprint, vision 2030, aims at expanding access to electricity (energy) and safe water to all Kenyans and an integrated approach of these sectors will contribute towards achieving this. A review of the Kenyan Food security policy gives some of the factors contributing to food insecurity as weak governance and planning capacity, inadequate information and information sharing, weak dialogue with the private sector and weak social participation and system responsiveness. This can be addressed by creating a forum that will not only address the insecurity issue but will also provide a mechanism of discussing and proposing possible multi-sectoral inclusions and trade-offs that will help decision makers draft policies that will mitigate the insecurities.
To effectively meet the growing demand for water, food and energy, there is need for well-coordinated and timely management of the three resources and any other interrelated resource or aspect. It is imperative that there is comprehensive understanding of the three resources, all factors contributing to their enhancement, all risks that challenge their sustainable supply and how these risks are being responded to and managed national y and globally. This requires an integrated effort for the three sectors in terms of strategy and policy planning and implementation.
This workshop targets policy makers, researchers and practitioners in the three sectors and the expected workshop outputs are:
-Awareness created amongst key decision makers and stakeholders in the 3 sectors
-Platform to encourage dialogue on conflicting views in the water-food-energy sectors
-Research and capacity gaps identified for action
-A policy brief paper
We expect participation from Ministries of Energy, Agriculture & Water, WASREB, ICRISAT, KARI, ERC, KEPHIS, KEFRI, WSP's, Universities, WRMA, NIB, World Bank, SIDA, DfID, NORAD, Kenya Water Industry Association, among others.