Integrating the planning of a multi-reservoir system in nexus with agricultural and electricity infrastructure could alleviate security concerns for these resources in regions where demand is growing while water and land scarcity are exacerbated by climate change and anthropogenic pressures. This study focuses on the benefits of resource integration and cooperation in the Eastern Nile basin. To overcome common limitations of equilibrium and soft-linked partial equilibrium models (e.g. high levels of spatial aggregation, non-insightful cooperation scenarios and a lack of heterogeneity), we propose a regional hard-linked WEF-nexus model that explicitly represents resource connectivity networks for water and electricity, and describes heterogeneity in resource availability, production potentials and physical constraints. Using a non-linear operational process, we optimise reservoir operations, water allocations, cropping patterns, electricity mixes and trade quantities on a monthly time-step over multiple years in a receding horizon fashion to maximize economic benefits for each country and regionally. This iterative implementation allows the modelling of operational changes as feedback against exogenous climate disturbances and enables information exchange between upstream-downstream countries. Thus, we describe four different levels of transboundary cooperation with their corresponding constraints and policy objectives. Compared to the reference scenario of unilateral planning, our results indicate an increase in regional economic returns for scenarios in which river flow information is shared between countries (+9%), river flow and trade information are shared (+10%) and WEF resources are coordinated regionally (+15%). These increased returns successively come from an increase in the effectiveness of agricultural water consumption, especially in Sudan, a change in trade patterns for agricultural products and a shift in cropping patterns. These findings underscore the importance of adequate representations of spatial and temporal heterogeneity of resources and their connectivity, as well as the need for a more diverse set of collaboration scenarios to facilitate planning in transboundary river systems.
Verhagen, J., van der Zaag, P., & Abraham, E. (2021). Operational planning of WEF infrastructure: quantifying the value of information sharing and cooperation in the Eastern Nile basin. Environmental Research Letters, 16(8), 085006.
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