event 03 may. 2022

The 9th World Water Forum // Showcasing the benefits of the WEF Nexus approach in the West African region.

This year´s 9th World Water Forum took place from the 21st-25th of March 2022 in Dakar Senegal under the motto "Water security for peace and development”. The Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme, jointly funded by the European Union and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, had the exciting opportunity to present the successes of the project at the EU Pavilion on March 22nd 2022.


Robert Kranefeld highlighting the challenge of developing a governance framework. © GIZ, Moussa Ibrahim

This session titled: “WEFE in Africa” took place within the EU Pavilion, hosted by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) at the 9th World Water Forum held in Dakar, Senegal on March 22nd, 2022. The session highlighted the importance of the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus and its institutionalization.

It was opened and moderated by Dr. Cesar CARMONA-MORENO from the Institute on Sustainable Resources of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. He presented insights from the recently published book: “Implementing the Water–Energy–Food–Ecosystems Nexus and Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals” (IWA, Unesco, JRC 2021). The book aims "to serve as a roadmap for professionals working in developing countries interested in the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus approach (WEFE)" and brings together scientific and political knowledge on institutionalising the Nexus approach with case studies from various basins.

Figure 1: Nexus dialogue process (JRC Technical Report, Position Paper 2019)

As one of the contributors to the case studies, GIZ had the honour to present their work within the Nexus Regional Dialogues (NRD) Programme underlined with concrete examples from the Niger Basin region which aims to institutionalise the WEF Nexus approach in national and regional governance structures and investment decisions. The programme currently has 5 dialogues implemented in Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and Northern Africa, the Niger Basin and Southern Africa in cooperation with regional partner organisations.

The central objective of the NRD Programme is to mainstream WEF Nexus investment and governance. Policy recommendations and governance frameworks are developed to realise and support integrated natural resource management. In addition, investment opportunities for multi-sectoral projects are identified (a key example being hydroelectric dams). WEF Nexus demonstration projects have been developed within the regions to illustrate the benefits and necessity of this approach.

Robert Kranefeld, Regional Coordinator of the NRD in the Niger Basin, addressed the various challenges on developing a governance framework that integrates horizontally various sectors such as Water, Energy and Food, vertically various institutional levels, from transboundary to the local user level as well as various actors from civil society, private and public sector.

Thinking of governance as being three-dimensional would be like solving a Rubik’s cube. However, there would be no blueprint for all regions. The Nexus Framework presented by JRC provided great orientation for implementing the Nexus Programme in the Niger Basin. A crucial aspect being the evidence and assessment phase for understanding existing governance structures on which a nexus framework can build on. In the case of the Niger Basin Authority, fundamental documents such as the Authority’s revised Constitution from 1987 or the Water Charter from 2008 and its five annexes clearly state the objective of an integrated approach towards managing its natural resources. The Nexus approach can thus provide tools and inform decision makers on the planning and implementation of projects that strive for creating synergies between the sectors and coordinating between various actors.

Figure 2: Dr. Cesar CARMONA-MORENO (JRC) and Robert Kranefeld (GIZ). © GIZ, Moussa Ibrahim


WEF Nexus Demonstration Projects: the Niger Basin Dialogue

With a focus on the Niger Basin Dialogue, two demonstration projects were presented. The first being the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. The Lagdo multipurpose dam was built on the Benue River between 1977 and 1982. The Lagdo dam itself contributes to water-energy and food security; the multipurpose dam contributes to hydropower and irrigational use. The dam has enormous Nexus potential, with respect to aspects of hydropower production, irrigation, ecosystem management, and water supply. It illustrates the potential benefits of the WEF Nexus approach and the necessity of a regional basin organisation, in this case the Niger Basin Authority, in its management of water resource-based infrastructure. It provides energy security for the nearby communities of Lagdo seeing reduced hydropower capacities during dry periods and an increase during the rainy season to mitigate against extreme flooding – a concern for locals in Garoua and communities further downstream in Nigeria. In terms of food security, the food production potential exceeds the local inhabitants. As such, the sustainable and efficient management of the Benue River Basin can provide important lessons for the use of a Nexus perspective in the entire Niger Basin.

The second demonstration project highlighted was a women’s collective in Kollo, Niger. This collective promotes clean energy and economical use of water resources to improve vegetable production for women's empowerment.

Get to know Amina, the leader of the women´s cooperative in Kollo, Niger and learn more about how sustainable natural resource management uplifts their livelihooods:

Figure 3 - Solar powered irrigation system in Kollo @ SMD
Figure 4 - Head of women's collective in Kollo @ SMD

In Niger, recurrent climate change phenomena are having negative impacts on the environment, biodiversity, habitats and populations. These impacts manifest through numerous events, such as floods, droughts or diseases that contribute to food insecurity, bush fires and migration, among others. To better cope with these impacts, mitigation and adaptation measures are developed; the WEF-Nexus approach in particular aims to secure the supply of these resources by strengthening synergies and reducing trade-offs among these sectors and help increase food security, water security and economic progress through the development of new cost-effective and environmentally friendly technologies.

The project’s objective in Kollo is to build the capacity of the beneficiaries in innovative concepts for the rational use of water and energy resources and to have access to agricultural inputs to increase production. The irrigation system consists of solar-powered pumps and several retention basins to store the water. It reliably supplies water by avoiding the over-exploitation of groundwater resources and provides trainings on alternatives to chemical pesticides and more drought-resistant crops. The women have taken a major step towards food self-sufficiency, using renewable solar energy while increasing their climate resilience in the dry summer months.

The session ended with a vivid discussion on the differences and potential harmonisation between the WEF or WEFE approach, the integration of capacity building to local stakeholders and universities on the outlook of the Nexus programme.

Figure 5 - Participants discussing the WEF approach. © GIZ, Moussa Ibrahim

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