The EU-funded project TriNex - Knowledge-Triangle Platform for the Water-Energy-Food Nexus - is taking the lead in making the WEF Nexus the next research, education and innovation frontier for sustainable resource management in Egypt.
The WEF-NEXUS refers to three of the major issues currently facing Egypt: Water, Energy, and Food (WEF). The TriNex survey is designed to help understand the needs of the expertise in these fields in order to face the challenges of the WEF-Nexus in the Future. Furthermore, this survey aims at understanding the knowledge, experience, and competencies of Egypt's experts on this topic. The survey should take no longer than 10 mins. You can participate in the survey here.
The all-too-real crises of Water, Energy, and Food insecurity are a dead-weight encumbering an otherwise flourishing Egypt. Freed of these burdens, Egyptian society can proceed towards true sustainable development. TriNex will be the launch pad for this.
Egypt has historically relied almost exclusively on the River Nile for its water needs. Industrial, agricultural, and domestic water needs are fulfilled from this one source which currently accounts for a staggering 95% of all Egyptian water usage. There are no other rivers and negligible rainfall. Up until recently the Nile has been sufficient. However, Egypt's rapidly expanding population has outpaced what the Nile can provide. By United Nations standards, a country which has anything below 1,000 cubic meters of water per capita per year is officially in water poverty. As it stands, the figure for Egypt is 900 cubic meters per capita and this figure will drop to 670 by 2017. In addition to this is the growing demand from other Nile Basin countries for greater access to Nile water. As it stands the majority of Nile water is allocated to Egypt with a small percentage going to Sudan. The combined quantities for Egypt and Sudan represent the entirety of the Nile's annual flow, and any large-scale usage downstream will have a severe impact on Egypt.
Historically, Egypt has been an exporter of both oil and gas. This pattern is slowly reversing as Egypt faces an increasing domestic demand which it is struggling to meet. Gas consumption has doubled in the last decades while fossil fuel consumption reached 95% of supply in 2010 (OECD/IEA, 2013). While the government is looking into diversifying to meet mounting demand, more work is needed.
Egypt has a strong agricultural tradition. Despite a predominantly arid climate, the banks of the Nile and the Delta region have provided an abundance of food to both Egypt and the Mediterranean for thousands of years. Now, with arable land giving way to encroaching desertification, the loss of soil moisture, and the use of much agricultural land for building projects, Egypt finds itself the world's largest importer of wheat. The average temperature is rising and evaporation rates are soaring, especially in Lake Nasser, while Egypt still employs archaic irrigation and farming techniques. The result is that 15 million Egyptians are now considered vulnerable to food insecurity, out of a population of 85 million. With over 17% of the population thus threatened, the decreasing arable land, and the Nile River no longer adequate to Egypt's needs, immediate thought and research is vital in order for Egypt to feed its growing population.
The Nexus in Egypt
These three overlapping issues have a multiplier effect, and a more integrated approach to solving them is crucial for development. Up until now, these issues have been dealt with separately. Only by acknowledging their interrelatedness and dealing with them accordingly will significant and lasting progress be made.
This is the WEF Nexus. The integration of the study of these different yet inseparable issues into one coherent and interdisciplinary endeavour is the key to producing lasting solutions toward building a sustainable Egypt within a green economy framework.
The Role the University
TriNex aims to increase the role that universities play in Egyptian society. A national strategy and university platform that synergises research, education, and innovation on the WEF Nexus will further this goal. This university platform will provide lifelong learning for researchers, encourage interdisciplinary learning, and initiate projects.
TriNex will foster cooperation among universities within the WEF Nexus, including research, education, activities, and integrated projects in the areas of water desalination, renewable energy, and agro-food practices.