Nexus Regional Dialogue MENA // A National Dialogue in Khartoum on Water, Energy and Food Nexus
By Dr. Nisreen Lahham and Maarit Thiem (Nexus Regional Dialogue Programme). On 30 September 2018, the Nexus Regional Dialogue in the MENA region organized a National Dialogue on Water, Energy and Food Nexus in Khartoum together with the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD); the technical body of the League of Arab States (LAS) for agriculture. The objectives were to introduce the planned Nexus Assessment for Sudan and to elaborate how different Sudanese entities and stakeholders can jointly contribute to the process.
The Nexus Assessment study for Sudan is carried out by the NRD. The International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI), Humboldt University in Germany, and the University of Khartoum have been contracted to support the conceptualisation and realisation of the analysis. The aim of this Assessment is to provide guidance to the Sudanese government in order to align national sectorial policies and strategies, and implementation plans. This will be achieved through contextualizing the Water-Energy and Food Nexus in the national resources and human securities situation, identifying suitable opportunities and institutional settings to apply a Nexus approach, and potentially policy reforms needed.
The assessment was initiated based on the expressed interest of the Sudanese Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity, in view of the increasing WEF insecurities in Sudan and the conflicts over natural resources. Sudan, although being considered as the “Food Basket” of the Arab Region in the 1970’s, still depends on food imports and faces increasing demands and pressures on energy, food, and water resources.
Kick-off Event for Nexus Activities in Sudan
At the opening of the kick-off event the representative of the German Embassy, Ms. Janine Rohwer emphasized the importance of the interconnections between the water, energy and food sectors, stressing the necessity of adopting integrated policies for the three sectors in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs. The Deputy Director General of AOAD; Mr. Raid Hattar highlighted in his speech the commitment of AOAD with regards to applying the Nexus approach in their activities. Mr. Raid mentioned the importance of building capacities on Nexus implementation in the region. He expressed the interest of AOAD to take part in training Nexus experts at regional level in collaboration with the NRD to further disseminate the Nexus approach throughout the Arab region.
The discussion following the introduction of the Nexus approach as well as the concept of the Nexus assessment, showed very clearly that the Nexus concept, although not always explicitly spelled out, is not a new concept in Sudan.
An existing Food Security Committee with representatives from various line ministries exists in Sudan, with the aim of bringing different sectors together. However, it was also stressed that the implementation of the concept is still very much lagging behind. Intersectoral governance structures need to be strengthened in order to ease the way to implement the Nexus approach. Through an interactive session, the experts suggested some potential Nexus actions in Sudan such as:
- using solar energy for water pumping in irrigated agricultural lands,
- using of treated wastewater in irrigation and
- using recycled agricultural wastes for energy production.
Furthermore, some experts stated that Nexus could potentially provide a basis for regional cooperation in the Eastern Nile Basin as well as in the wider Arab region, benefiting greatly from regional trade options of energy and manufactured products.
The meeting was attended by 28 senior officials from relevant organizations and ministries in Sudan; Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, National Electricity Cooperation, Hydraulics Research Center, and other governmental and research entities. Experts from the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development participated in the meeting as well.
Nexus Training and Workshop
A two days Nexus training workshop on implementing the Nexus approach followed the kick-of meeting, which developed the capacities of 31 experts from the water, energy and agricultural sectors, in addition to experts from planning and investment sectors.
- identified the specific WEF-Nexus challenges in Sudan,
- provided an understanding of the complex WEF Nexus interconnections and
- introduced different tools and methodologies to assess, operationalize and implement WEF Nexus projects in Sudan.
Beside the active and fruitful discussions on WEF Nexus issues in Sudan, these two events offered an excellent environment for mutual exchange and learning on relevant Nexus issues amongst the participants from different sectors. After conducting the training workshop, a meeting was held between the NRD team and the General Manager of AOAD; Professor Ibrahim EL-Dukhairi, where prospects of future collaboration were discussed. Professor Ibrahim assured the intention of AOAD to collaborate with the NRD on Nexus capacity building on regional level, so as to mainstream the Nexus approach throughout the Arab region.