event 14 jul. 2021

Research article // The Water-Energy-Food Nexus as an Adaptation Strategy for Achieving Sustainable Livelihoods at a Local Level

By Luxon Nhamo, Bekithemba Ndlela, Sylvester Mpandeli and Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi. The authors of the study developed a conceptual framework to illustrate the interlinked socio-ecological components and establish the quantitative relationships of those components. This facilitated an understanding of socio-ecological connections and sustainable livelihoods-environment co-benefits at a local scale.

WEF Nexus framework for building resilient communities

The WEF nexus framework for building resilient communities at local level, integrating the drivers of change with the elements of sustainable livelihoods to attain a sustainable balance between natural supply and human and environmental demands. © The authors


The imbalance between resource availability and population increase requires transformative approaches to inform policy, decision-making and practice on coherent adaptation strategies for improved livelihoods and resilient communities. Nexus approaches are built on an understanding that natural processes do not operate in isolation within a system; hence, an emergent challenge in one unit obviously disturbs the whole system. This study applied an integrated water-energy-food (WEF) nexus analytical model to holistically assess resource availability, distribution, use and management at a local level in Sakhisizwe Local Municipality, South Africa. The aim was to inform strategies and guidelines on improving livelihoods of resource-poor rural communities. The calculated municipal composite index of 0.185, coupled with a deformed spider graph, represents a marginally sustainable resource management result. The analysis simplified the relationship between the intricately interlinked socio-ecological components and facilitated the identification of priority areas for intervention. The process provides pathways that steer resource use efficiencies and attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unlike current linear approaches, integrated and transformative approaches like the WEF nexus provide a multidisciplinary platform for stakeholder engagement to sustainably enhance cross-sectoral coordination of resource management and harmonisation of policies and strategies. The WEF nexus approach is useful for informing decisions on improving livelihoods, enhancing resource securities, identifying priority areas for intervention and providing transformative pathways towards sustainable development.


Climate change; resilience; risk analysis; adaptation; nexus planning; resource security


October 2020




Nhamo, L., Ndlela, B., Mpandeli, S., & Mabhaudhi, T. (2020). The Water-Energy-Food Nexus as an Adaptation Strategy for Achieving Sustainable Livelihoods at a Local Level. Sustainability, 12(20), 8582. doi:10.3390/su12208582


The Water-Energy-Food Nexus as an Adaptation Strategy for Achieving Sustainable Livelihoods at a Local Level

Related articles

- Publication // Understanding the conceptual frameworks and methods of the WEF Nexus at the household level for development-oriented policy support: a systematic review

- Publication // An integrative analytical model for the water-energy-food nexus: South Africa case study

- Publication // Sustainability Indicators and Indices for the Water-Energy-Food Nexus for Performance Assessment: WEF Nexus in Practice – South Africa Case Study

- Southern Africa // Prospects for Improving Irrigated Agriculture in Southern Africa: Linking Water, Energy and Food

- Publication // A Review of the Water–Energy–Food Nexus Research in Africa

- Review Article // Climate Change Adaptation through the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Southern Africa

- Publication // The Water-Energy-Food Nexus as a Tool to Transform Rural Livelihoods and Well-Being in Southern Africa

¡Mantente al día!

Le informamos sobre los proyectos, eventos, acciones, publicaciones y noticias actuales!