event 29 Aug 2022

Nexus Interview Series // Annah Ndeketeya, Programme Officer, Southern Africa

The interview series aims to provide a better picture of the people within the Nexus team and their perspectives on Water Energy Food Nexus challenges and opportunities. In this episode, we invite you to get to know Annah Ndeketeya, Programme Officer in the Southern Africa region.

Nexus Interview Series Intro Sharepics

Annah works as a Programme Officer at Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) and supports the implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) WEF Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme. Her expertise and interests include IWRM, agricultural water management, circular economy, sustainable water supply and sanitation. Her previous experience include research in irrigation and water engineering at various universities and circular economy at IWMI. She worked in the private sector where she mainly supported irrigation water management projects in the UAE and later expanded into the development sector where she supported the implementation of water resources management projects in Africa, at the World Bank.

She holds a MSc degree in International Land and Water Management from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

What does the WEF Nexus approach mean to you and how would you describe it in your own words?

Annah: The WEF Nexus is an approach that aims to systematically address the multi-faceted challenges within the water, energy and food sectors, and acknowledges that water, land, energy resources are interlinked in the ecosystem. Seeing that an action in one sector will impact the other, the Nexus perspective encourages a multi-disciplinary approach to managing land, water and energy resources whilst facilitating better interactions and synergies between the sectors.

What are the main Nexus challenges in Souther Africa? Can you mention a specific example?

Annah: A key focus of the SADC Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme Phase II is to increase application of the Nexus approach in planning, policymaking and implementation WEF Nexus investments. It is being noted that across SADC Member states, the implementation of WEF Nexus investments is constrained by policy and institutional arrangements, legal, financial, and coordination. This is evidenced by several qualitative policy implementation gaps within and between governing structures, lack of predicted consequences during policy design and implementation, limited of empowerment of citizens resulting in inefficient use of the WEF resources, and lack of accountability in the public and private sector. Most development projects skewed towards sectoral basis, as is the case with the management of WEF resources in the coal-rich Mpumalanga Province of South Africa.

The Mpumalanga Province is a key source of South Africa’s coal supply, with over 60% of the province’s surface area either being subjected to mining rights or prospecting applications. Mpumalanga also possesses almost half of the country’s high potential arable land. Current mining activities in the province are causing serious water pollution from acid mine drainage (AMD) and environmental degradation. The mining requires land for the development of mines—which in Mpumalanga is often high potential arable land, which means that the pursuit of coal-based energy security is threatening food security as 52% of households are food insecure. The challenge is three-fold: (a) the need to continue providing energy in a country already facing critical energy insecurity challenges, (b) pollution of water resources from AMD, and (c) degradation of arable land from mining activities and the poor water quality for irrigation that is exacerbating food insecurity in the country. These challenges highlight the interconnectedness and cross-cutting nature of the drivers of change and their impacts on energy, food, and water security, with their resultant trade-offs. Therefore, there is a need for integrated, transformative, and circular approaches such as the WEF nexus to address these challenges simultaneously. Focusing on a single sector, in this case energy, will only transfer and compound the same challenges in the other sectors.

What is the most promising approach for implementing/mainstreaming WEF Nexus in Southern Africa? And why??

Annah: One of the key resolutions from the national dialogues is the establishment of national WEF Nexus technical working groups to support integration of nexus into select prioritized opportunities and advance nexus investments planning at the country level. This is expected to play a similar role to the SADC WEF working group, but at a national level. It is expected to provide guidance on how to develop and implement programmes and integrated plans to achieve water, energy and food security as well as meet the national SDG targets. For example, in Lesotho the WEF technical working group has already been established and is supporting the development of a GCF funding proposals as well as strengthening WEF nexus approach in planning and decision making. These TWGs are crucial operational in ensuring that countries transition from theory to action.

Thank you Annah for taking the time to answer these questions!

More Information on the Nexus Regional Dialogue in Southern Africa

Read more interviews from the series

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