A water-energy-food (WEF) nexus approach acknowledges that water security, energy security and food security are inextricably linked and that actions in any one area usually have impacts in the others. This approach will help to avoid trade-offs and create synergies between different development agendas.
Water, energy and food security are key priority areas for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The SADC Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) for Integrated Water Resources Development and Management IV (SADC RSAP IV) recognises the WEF nexus as a key approach to achieving water, energy and food security. Integrated planning of water, food and energy sectors and promoting regional cooperation has been considered as a strategy to meet water, energy and food security targets, and to improve natural resource use efficiencies in the region.
The SADC Secretariat is leading the development of a SADC WEF Nexus Operational Framework through the European Union (EU) supported WEF nexus regional dialogue and investment project. The operational framework is expected to provide an overall guidance and tools to make decisions, and facilitate coordination between different sectors and enhance investment in the SADC region.
It was at the 3rd Zambezi Basin Stakeholders’ Forum (8-9 October 2018 in Lilongwe, Malawi) that the preliminary results from the processes that are leading to the development of a SADC WEF Nexus Operational Framework were reviewed. The forum participants provided feedback on the proposed mechanisms for strengthening WEF nexus governance in the SADC region, and on the draft WEF nexus investment project screening and appraisal tool. The forum also provided an opportunity to see how the WEF nexus approach could be applied at a river basin scale and share lessons and learn from other WEF nexus related initiatives in the basin.
The Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) has been conducting basin-wide studies in identifying multi-sector investment opportunities. Investment areas on water, energy and food security (agriculture) have been identified, among others. However, the interlinkages between water-energy-food security programs, and the interlinkages between water-energy-land resources have not been well considered. The 8th SADC River Basin Organizations (RBOs) workshop that took place from 8-9 May, 2018 in Windhoek, Namibia recognized the important role that the RBOs can play in facilitating investment for water, energy and food security in the region.
The ZAMCOM in collaboration with the Global Water Partnership and other partners, organized the third Zambezi Basin Stakeholders’ Forum from 8-9 October, 2018 in Lilongwe, Malawi. The Forum focused on the theme: “Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) nexus approach for socio-economic benefits in the Zambezi River Basin”. The forum was attended by over 100 participants from the Zambezi river basin states, partner organisations, and regional and international cooperating partners. The forum discussed how the WEF Nexus approach can be applied in the Zambezi river basin in facilitating better interactions and synergies between the water, food, and energy sectors in order to unlock and optimize the development potential of the basin. In addition to important discussions in the plenary, GWP SA and other partners co-convened two parallel sessions focusing on (a) Nexus Opportunities and Investments and (b) Nexus Governance.
Key outcomes from the forum include:
- SADC WEF Nexus Conceptual Framework: The SADC WEF Nexus conceptual framework provides clarity on the nexus approach and its contribution to the simultaneous achievement of WEF security and improvement of natural resource use efficiencies in the region. The conceptual framework also clarifies that the nexus approach requires improvements in the governance system, and also requires tools to facilitate investment.
- WEF Nexus at country level: The country WEF nexus assessments of the Zambezi basin states (Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) reviewed the existing enabling environments for the WEF Nexus approach and identified challenges and opportunities for applying the WEF nexus approach in the member states.
- WEF Nexus approach for facilitating investment and financing: The draft investment project screening and appraisal tool that is being developed for SADC has the potential to be used to screen and appraise large transboundary projects, and to enhance WEF security for small livelihood projects.
- WEF Nexus governance mechanisms: The proposed mechanisms for strengthening coordination at SADC regional level between the water, energy and food security institutions, and for enhancing alignment of WEF sectoral policy implementation should build on existing structures at regional, transboundary and national levels where possible. A SADC WEF nexus working group would however be critical in driving the WEF nexus agenda at all levels