event 17 Jan 2022

Nexus Interview Series // Kristine Herbomel, Advisor Support to the integrated management of water resources of lake Kivu and Ruzizi river

With this interview series, we want to provide a better picture of the people working for the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme and their perspectives on WEF Nexus challenges and opportunities. In this episode, we interview Kristine Herbomel, Advisor of the project "Support to the integrated management of water resources of lake Kivu and Ruzizi river".

Nexus interview kristine

Kristine Herbomel is responsible for the project "Support to the Integrated Management of Water Resources of Lake Kivu and Ruzizi River", co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The project goal is to improve the hydrological and operational management of Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River while pursuing an integrated and Nexus-based approach. Previously, Kristine worked as a civil servant for the United States Government, where she managed international capacity building programs on water resources management and advised officials on international water policy. She has an M.A. in Global Environmental Policy from American University and a B.A. in International Relations and Global Business from the University of Southern California. Kristine is based in Eschborn, Germany.

Kristine interview image

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

K: The WEF Nexus encourages interdisciplinary thinking around multiple systems and multiple scales. It puts the interdependencies between the Water, Energy, and Agricultural sectors at the front and center, forcing us to consider the important tradeoffs that we must make. It is very important to also acknowledge that all three sectors are incredibly dependent on the natural environment and functioning ecosystems. This environmental lens must be part of the overarching context applied to any WEF Nexus way of thinking or implementing projects. If we consider the WEF Nexus as a triangle, that triangle would sit inside a larger green circle that represents the environment.

What are the main Nexus challenges in Lake Kivu and Ruzizi River? Can you mention a specific example?

K: The Lake Kivu and Ruzizi River basin is a transboundary basin shared by Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. Lake Kivu is one of the African great lakes and is part of the Congo River Basin as well as the Lake Tanganyika Basin. There are a myriad of Nexus challenges in the basin. One example is hydropower production on the Ruzizi River – currently there are two operational hydropower plants with two additional planned that would create a cascade of hydropower stations in the Ruzizi gorge. This provides an important source of clean energy in all three countries where many populations struggle with energy access.

Due to the topographical setting, erosion is a major challenge in the basin, and increasingly turbid water threatens to degrade the hydropower turbines and create sedimentation in the reservoirs at an accelerated pace, and in addition debris such as plants must be removed before water passes through the power stations. Furthermore, insufficient waste management means that solid waste such as plastics can also threaten the hydropower stations and require costly removal practices. One way to mediate this is to pursue catchment management plans that prioritize erosion control, which can be done through measures such as afforestation, reforestation, and agroforestry. As more land is converted for agricultural use, the erosion threats increase unless remediation is integrated into agricultural practices. Improved solid waste management, in particular in the population centers, would also decrease costs and improve efficiency at the hydropower stations. There is great potential for Payment for Ecosystems Services schemes in this vein, which would improve the productivity and longevity of the hydropower stations while at the same time improving water quality and encouraging more sustainable agricultural practices.

What is the most promising approach for implementing/mainstreaming WEF Nexus in Lake Kivu and Ruzizi River and why?

K: The Lake Kivu and Ruzizi River Basin Authority (ABAKIR) is a Basin Organisation established via a trilateral convention between Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. ABAKIR’s primary mission is to improve the management of water and related resources in the basin. Lake and River Basin Organisations (L/RBOs) such as ABAKIR serve as excellent conduits to implement and mainstream a WEF Nexus approaches because they have a broad, transboundary mandate, take an interdisciplinary approach to water resources management, and often have the convening power to bring together stakeholders on multiple scales (local water users, provincial governments, national ministries, etc.) and across multiple sectors (water, energy, agriculture, environment, etc.).

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

More Information on the project Support to the integrated management of water resources of lake Kivu and Ruzizi river

Read more of our interview series "Introducing the Nexus Dialogue Programme and the People behind it" here:

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