4 Niger life on the river


Improving security and climate resilience in a fragile context through the Water-Energy-Food Nexus


  • EU
  • BMZ
  • Logo NBA
  • CBLT Logo
  • MAEDD Logo
  • Ministère de l Economie de la Planification du Développement et de la Coopération Internationale 002
  • Logo GIZ 730x730
  • #projectOrganisation:

    Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

  • #projectPartners:

    International, regional, national and local stakeholders

  • #projectImplementationPeriod:

    July 2019 – June 2023

  • #projectBudget:

    Total 5,038,785€, EU contribution 4,000,000€, BMZ contribution 1,038,785 €

  • #projectBeneficiaryCountries:

    Mali, Niger, Chad

  • #projectFunding:

    European Commission (EC) DG DEVCO German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Key Publications

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Nexus Fact Sheet // Frexus: Improving security and climate resilience in a fragile context through the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus



With the FREXUS project, is aimed to improve security and climate resilience in a fragile context through the Water-Energy and Food Security Nexus (Frexus), in Mali, Niger and Chad. The objective is to increase peace and stability in areas where resource conflict is exacerbated by climate change.

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Nexus Fact Sheet // Frexus: Améliorer la sécurité et la résilience au changement climatique dans les contextes fragiles à travers le Nexus Eau-Energie - Sécurité Alimentaire



L'objectif de le projet FREXUS, qui est centré sur la région du Sahel, est de fournir des outils adéquats pour relever ces défis, éviter leurs conséquences négatives (telles que la concurrence et les conflits pour les ressources) et ouvrir des portes vers des opportunités pour le développement durable.

RBO session cover picture

Recording // Water, climate, and borders - The role of River Basin Cooperation for Climate Resilience at COP26



This is the recording of the session "Water, climate, and borders - The role of River Basin Cooperation for Climate Resilience", that took place at the Water Pavilion at COP26 on November 12, 2021. This session facilitated a discussion between various River Basin Organizations around their experiences on the management and coordination of climate mitigation and adaptation projects, enabling greater transboundary climate resilience.

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Fact Sheet // The Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme Phase I



The Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme Phase I (2016 - 2020) , funded by the EU and BMZ, aimed at mainstreaming and institutionalizing the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus approach through the five Nexus Regional Dialogues in Middle East and North Africa (MENA); Niger River Basin; Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC); Southern Africa; and Central Asia.

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Projet Nexus// Améliorer la sécurité et la résilience au changement climatique dans les contextes fragiles à travers le Nexus Eau-Energie - Sécurité Alimentaire (Frexus), au Mali, au Niger et au Tchad.



Le cercle vicieux rareté-concurrence-conflits-instabilité qui pèse actuellement sur de nombreuses communautés du Sahel peut se transformer en un cercle vertueux de résilience-gestion durable des ressources-coopération-sécurité. Pour y parvenir, le projet Frexus promeut des approches intersectorielles et intégrées pour la gestion des ressources naturelles, au sein des communautés locales confrontées aux conséquences de la rareté des ressources et aux impacts du changement climatique. Frexus (Nexus dans des contextes fragiles) vise à fournir des outils adéquats pour relever ces défis, éviter leurs conséquences négatives (telles que la concurrence et les conflits pour les ressources) et ouvrir des portes vers des opportunités pour le développement durable.

Conceptual Framework Sahel Publication zef

Publication // Land, Climate, Energy, Agriculture and Development in the Sahel



This regional synthesis report focuses on rural development, agricultural livelihoods and job creation in the Sahel region, providing up-to-date knowledge and critical insights on the interrelationships between land degradation, climate change and energy in the Sahel. It also identifies policy entry points and investment opportunities that will help advance economic growth, food security, and job creation in the region.

Regional Context

Context of natural resource scarcity and conflict

Pressure on natural resources is increasing due to factors such as misuse of natural resources, high population growth, migratory movements, but also Climate Change (CC). These factors reduce the possibilities for sustainable development and increase the risk of conflict. The competitive exploitation of natural resources easily leads to conflicts at all levels of governance: community, local, national, sub-regional and regional. In this current state, these risks are exacerbated by the adverse effects of CC impacts in Sahelian countries in general and in Chad, Mali and Niger in particular. They form a vicious circle (conflicts and insecurity feed on the competitive exploitation of natural resources, which are also affected by the harmful effects of CC).

Policy makers, the media and academics are increasingly interested in the interdependencies between the Nexus water-energy-food sectors, which are particularly crucial in Africa's river basins and which are also considered among the most vulnerable to CC impacts. These and other factors, such as land-use change and increasing urbanisation, will affect water, energy and food security, as well as economic development and ecosystem health. The WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, warned that the failure to adapt to CCs and water crises in general are the main risks facing the world. Similarly, the security implications of climate change have also been addressed in the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as it exacerbates conflict drivers by exacerbating existing fragilities within societies, straining weak institutions, reshaping power relations and jeopardising post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding.

Thus, in the coming years, competition between bulk water supply and agriculture (the largest user of water) will increase, followed by competition for water between agriculture and energy. Competition between water and energy is also expected to intensify. This growing competition and perceptions of insecurity motivate the need for trade-offs and synergies between water, energy and agriculture. The concept of the Water-Energy-Food Security nexus (WESN) provides a means by which actors can achieve more economically efficient, socially equitable and environmentally sound outcomes for all three sectors.

Global climate change – an environmental conflict multiplier or process for triggering cooperation?

The Sahel region has experienced a deterioration of its security situation over the last decade with a rise in armed conflict, rebel groups and terrorism. Access to natural resources is one of the factors that plays a major role in tensions between communities. In parallel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared the Sahel one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change worldwide. With a rapidly growing population, currently estimated at more than 150 million inhabitants, whose revenues depend mainly on agriculture and livestock, Sahelian countries face growing pressures on water, land and energy resources, exacerbated by climate change and leading to competition and conflict between different user groups. Furthermore, sectorial projects addressing conflict and instability and strengthening climate resilient development sometimes have unintended negative effects, deteriorating the security situation even further. In interdependent and complex constellations reinforced by climate change and other stressors, resources scarcity, competition over resources, conflict and instability mutually reinforce each other and form a vicious cycle.

Shutterstock 583586605 Mopti Mali Africa September 2 2011 Mali fisherman in his boat Teo Tarras
Mopti, Mali @Shutterstock

We hold the key to a comprehensive response. Let’s unlock the tools to jointly address the nexus between water, peace and security … To make sure that a water-secure world is not a dream, but definitely a possible reality"

— Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Nexus Stories

Check out these Nexus successes across our regions - presented in a visual storytelling format, with personal stories and expert insights

Region Header Grafik Frexus NEU

The inland delta of the Niger River is selected for the implementation of the project in Mali. This area covers an area of 64,000 km2. It is the intermediate part of the river where it divides into several arms before resuming its normal course. It extends from the Djenné circle in the Mopti region to Timbuktu. It is reputed to be the largest wetland in West Africa. The inland delta is considered to be a concentration area for more than two million people and provides up to 15% of the country's cereal products, 80% of its fish production and about 90% of its livestock. The combination of this population and high production puts further pressure on the inland delta, which is already being degraded by the effects of climate change.

Increasingly, the pressures on the delta are embedded in a difficult socio-political context. Violent conflicts are now a daily reality in Mali, particularly in the central regions (Segou and Mopti) and especially in the inner delta. The Government of Mali recognises the links between the management of natural resources, the increase in community conflicts, the intervention of terrorist groups and the emergence of militias.

In order to contain this situation, the Inner Delta is now the focus of several development projects and programmes. These actions are developed by state bodies, international organisations, NGOs, etc.

The Niger Basin encompasses nine West African countries in the catchment area of the Niger River, the third longest river in Africa. The waters of the Niger River and its tributaries originate from the high rainfall of the eastern Guinea Highlands, crossing country lines and forming a boomerang shape as the Niger ‘bends’ in Mali before flowing south into the sea at the Gulf of Guinea in Nigeria. The landscape and climate is diverse, containing mountains, moist forests, savannahs and wetlands and features large ranges in rainfall depending on the season and climatic area.

Why are WEF Nexus solutions needed for peace security in the Sahel region?

The vicious cycle of scarcity, competition, conflict and instability can be turned into a virtuous cycle of resilience, sustainable resources management, cooperation and security. This

can be achieved by providing people, communities, countries and regions with means to mitigate current potential negative impacts of resources use by one group or sector on another while considering the impacts of climate change. A cross sectoral and integrated approach in the areas of development and security will create and foster new opportunities ensuring sustainable development and peace in the long term.

A Nexus approach entails considering the totality of the available sources for food, energy and water security and planning holistically how they can most efficiently together serve human and conservation needs. Taking a Nexus approach to resource use and project planning in a basin allows to 1) avoid undesired impacts on other sectors and conflicts between them, and 2) improve efficiency in use of natural resources for human livelihoods ensuring ecosystem conservation. The involvement of the three sectors takes place on an equal footing and the intersectoral discussion of relevant issues and joint development of solutions leads to win-win solutions or (where this is not possible) at least to jointly accepted trade-offs.

It pursues an integrated and NEXUS-based approach that will be applied to counter negative spirals of resource scarcity and conflicts and, instead, establish climate resilient development opportunities. Frexus focuses on local communities and is dedicated towards the inclusion of the security stakeholders and the most vulnerable parts of the population, especially women.

  • Sahel Region

    Mali, Niger and Chad lie in the heart of the Sahel region which is shaped by its two major basins and its ecosystems, the Niger River and the Lake Chad.

  • 60 Million

    60 million people are dependent upon the Niger River and the Lake Chad for drinking water, provide hydropower generation, irrigated agriculture fishing and transportation.

  • Climate Change Vulnerability

    The Sahel region is estimated to be the most vulnerable to climate change worldwide experiencing fluctuating rainfall, floods and droughts.

  • 10 Years

    The past 10 years have seen an increase in violent conflicts within the Sahel region due to resource scarcity and competition

  • 516 Million

    The population in the region is expected to increase almost threefold between 1990 and 2030 to reach 516 million people

  • Population Growth

    Rapid population growth will exacerbate the pressures on all resources


A deepened understanding of social and environmental factors in fragile areas

Since its start in 2019, the Frexus project has aimed to establish climate resilient development opportunities to help counter negative spirals of resource scarcity and conflicts.

The core achievements of the Frexus project include:

  • Risk Assessments

    Conflict analysis and climate risk assessment were performed at local level in the three participatory countries – Mali, Chad, Niger

  • Baseline Study

    Elaboration of a baseline study per intervention area

  • Identification Tool

    Development and application of a global hotspot identification tool to predict and identify areas at risk of resource-related conflicts in the next 12-months

  • Analytical Tool

    Development of a local analytical tool to identify the causal loop of conflicts through participatory analysis

  • Trainings

    Moderator training workshops for participatory country experts to support the development of local analytical tool can develop causal loop

Key Activities 

Towards peace and stability through integrated natural resource management

The purpose of the FREXUS project is to increase peace and stability in areas where resource conflict is exacerbated by climate change. This is made possible by improving the understanding of the interaction of social and environmental factors, including climate change, governance and management of natural resources, and conflict in fragile areas.

The main objectives include:

  • Developing and testing assessment tools and methodology regarding the linkages between resources uses, climate change and conflicts
  • Identifying and implementing activities to counter the challenges found especially in fragile contexts
  • Developing conflict-sensitive and climate-sensitive action plans for an integrated management of land and natural resources.
  • Supporting selected community stakeholders identify and implement action plan measures through inclusive community workshops
  • Empowering stakeholders’ ability to adequately address and mitigate conflicts and the effects of climate change through integrated planning and training
  • Enhancing the awareness of WEF nexus concept at a local, national and regional level

Tina Schmiers

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