This article is also available in French.
Context in the Sahel
The Niger River Basin in West and Central Africa covers an area of more than 2 million km² and is home to about 160 million people in Niger, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Cameroon, Mali, Benin, Nigeria and Chad. Seven of the nine countries in the basin are among the 20 poorest countries in the world, and many of them face a rapidly growing population in a vulnerable environment characterized by security threats from international terrorism, and difficult climatic conditions exacerbated by climate change.
The Niger Basin Authority (NBA) is a Nexus institution by mandate. As stated already in its revised convention from 1987, the NBA aims “to promote cooperation among the member countries and ensure an integrated development of the Niger Basin in all the fields of energy, water resources, agriculture, livestock, fishing and fish-fanning, forestry and forestry exploitation, transport and communications and industry.”.
The WEFE Nexus approach represents a paradigm shift in the international development agenda as a holistic approach to resource use in the context of a green economy and basic supply security. The current Phase II (2020-2023) of the Nexus Regional Dialogues aims to operationalize this approach with demonstrative projects on the ground. It is jointly funded by the European Commission and the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), and implemented by the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
An instrument to achieve development objectives of the region
In order to prepare the NBA Nexus Guidelines, 3-day-long workshops were conducted to present and discuss the Nexus criteria and principles. By increasing consultations on existing national water-energy-agriculture policy and investment dialogues in the Member States, the dialogues aimed to strengthen the capacity of national stakeholders in planning, financing, policy development and implementation using the Nexus approach.
The national in-presence workshops were organized by GIZ in coordination with the respective National Focal Structures (NFS) and the NBA with the support of the University of Ottawa. Among the participants of the events were representatives of the NBA and national ministries on water, energy and food policy, as well as dam agencies, NGOs, the private sector and scientific representants, user groups and traditional chiefs.
The National Dialogues programme was composed of a variety of topics and didactic approaches, as follow:
- Presentation of the Nexus approach and its key principles
- Presentation of the role and mandate of the NBA and NFS in the development of programmes and projects
- An interactive serious Nexus board game, simulating transboundary challenges of resource allocation
- Assessment of a cross-sectoral project identified by the country
- Financial mechanisms and economic potential of WEFE-Nexus projects
- The role of the WEFE-Nexus in the UNECE Water Convention
- Review of the draft Nexus Guidelines and developing of recommendations
Impressions from the National Dialogue workshops. © GIZ
4 months, 9 countries, 376 stakeholders
As a result of the National Dialogues, country-level observations and recommendations were made on the Nexus criteria and principles presented for the institutionalisation process. This led to the drafting of the Nexus Guidelines by international consultants from the University of Ottawa.
The participants of the National Dialogues were majoritarilary from the water, energy and agriculture sectors, with a significant water-sector presence. The dialogues saw a gender imbalance of 84% males to 16% females.
The draft document was then discussed during a joint regional validation meeting in early September in Cotonou, Benin, with representatives from all Member States and the NBA. Final recommendations were taken into further consideration and the final draft was presented to the Committee of Technical Experts of the NBA in October 2022 in N’Djamena. After a final discussion the experts formulated their recommendation for approval by the Council of Ministers, who ultimately approved the Guideline as an official document of the NBA.
Guidelines for the integration of the Water, Energy, Food Security, and Environmental Sustainability Nexus approach in the development of sustainable development programs and projects in the Niger Basin
The Guideline document has been officially approved by all responsible Ministers of the Niger Basin Member States. It aims to to support the NBA and the Member States in integrating the WEFE Nexus approach when establishing development programs and projects in order to ensure water security, energy security, food security, and environmental sustainability in the Niger Basin.
The Guidelines specifically define principles for assessing the WEFE Nexus criteria in development programs and projects. These principles build on already existing principles of the NBA Water Charter, based on IWRM-principles. Within the NBA, the Guidelines determine roles and responsibilities of actors and organs for better governance coordination. Two methodologic approaches, one quantitative and one qualitative, guide policy makers and decision makers on the evaluation of new projects.
Outlook of the opportunity for regional cooperation
The objective of the long process of development and validation of the Nexus Guidelines through the national and regional dialogues is to make the Niger Basin a common space for sustainable development through the integrated management of water resources and associated ecosystems, for the improvement of living conditions and the prosperity of the population.
- In this regard, the Regional Nexus Guidelines hold the potential to strengthen linkages between existing legal documents of the NBA, particularly the Water Charter and its annexes.
- be used for the development of the next Operation Plan of the NBA for the period 2024 – 2032
- to strengthen the feasibility and bankability of projects of the operational plan
- to maximize the benefits for the Basin's population and to ensure that investments in one sector do not significantly harm other sectors.
- highlight additional capacity building for the operationalization of the Nexus approach in NBA projects and programs.