Shutterstock 1242529162 Tunisia barmalini

Nexus Regional Dialogue in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

Scarce in natural resources and vulnerable to climate change

Project Details

  • EN V Co funded by POS
  • BMZ
  • Logo_Arab League 730x730
  • Logo GIZ 730x730
  • Implementing organisation:

    Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

  • Collaborating partners:

    League of Arab States (LAS)

  • Implementation period:

    July 2020 – June 2023

  • Beneficiary countries:

    Tunisia, Jordan, Sudan and Egypt

  • Funding by:

    German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and European Union (EU)

Key Publications

Factsheet MENA

Factsheet // Nexus Regional Dialogue MENA

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Project Report // Options for a Nexus Coordination Mechanism for the League of Arab States


Download (PDF, 3.214 MB)

By Alexander Carius and Annika Kramer. One important step in the process of WEF Nexus mainstreaming in Arab regional policies and institutions is to improve coordination and collaboration across sectoral activities, initiatives, policies and strategies within the League of Arab States (LAS).

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SPIS Study // Impact of Solar Pumping Irrigation Systems in Tunisia


Download (PDF, 1.764 MB)

This case study analyzes the impact of solar-powered irrigation systems (SPIS) on the groundwater use as well as its impact on a socio-economic level in Tunisia.

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Étude Nexus Tunisie // Evaluation Nexus Interdépendances des secteurs de l’eau, de l’énergie et de l’alimentation en Tunisie


Download (PDF, 1.82 MB)

This study elaborates an assessment of the WEF Nexus for Tunisia, applying and adjusting already existing Nexus methodologies to the Tunisian context and its priorities.

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Nexus Assessment // Study on the Synergies of the Water, Energy and Food Sectors in Sudan


Download (PDF, 2.332 MB)

This report presents the main findings of the Nexus assessment study for Sudan.

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Water-Energy-Food Nexus Assessment of Solar Energy Farming Interactions // The Azraq Case in Jordan with Insights from India


Download (PDF, 7.09 MB)

By Mohammad Al-Saidi. This report focuses on experiences with solar energy farming (SEF), and in particular the solar energy farming project in the Azraq basin in Jordan (referred to as SEF Azraq).

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WEF Nexus Farming: Upscaling Solutions for Small and Medium-Scale Farms

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MENA Policy Brief Series // The WEF Nexus in the Arab Region



The series comprises 6 policy briefs with different focus areas on the implementation of the WEF Nexus in the MENA region. All policy briefs are available both in English and in Arabic.

Nexus country profile tunisia

Nexus Country Profile Tunisia

Sudan country profile

Nexus Country Profile Sudan

Prima training

Training for researchers in the Mediterranean // “The water-energy-food-ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus: from research to practice”



Over the period of 3 days, 6 sessions were held by a range of renown Nexus experts who gave unique inputs on researching the WEFE Nexus, and using this research to implement Nexus policies in the MENA region. Access the presentations and watch the recordings here.


Water-Energy-Food-Nexus Farming: Upscaling Solutions for Small and Mediaum-Scale Farms


The PV Roadmap Initiative 2-pager


Gebal Egypt –Nexus Farming Feasibility


SDG Impact Report GEBAL


Framework for the Governance of the Water, Energy, Food and Environment (WEFE) Nexus in Jordan

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Agriculture through the Integration of Water, Energy, and Food Sectors


Regional Context

Water scarcity sets the scene for a region vulnerable to climate change

The Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) is water scarce, food deficient, energy intensive and highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Although the region contains 43% of the world’s oil reserves and holds immense potential for renewable energy, 35 million people still lack electricity. The region also holds just 1.4% of the world’s freshwater resources. Ongoing conflicts and poor security plague the region and undermine the sustainable management of natural resources, further underlining the need for WEF Nexus solutions. The Nexus approach’s focus on integrating sectoral policies is seen as integral to achieving development goals SDGs and Paris Climate Agreement.

Since 2016, the Nexus Regional Dialogue Programme in the Middle East and North Africa Region has been working across the region to institutionalise the WEF Nexus in public policy and planning. In the programme’s second phase they will continue this work with demonstration projects that show the value-added of the WEF Nexus, capacity building activities and the identification of financing opportunities.

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Mountain Oasis Tunisia @Shutterstock

The WEF Nexus approach, in my opinion, is a tool to resolve conflicts between vital sectors such as Water, Agriculture, and Energy, and bring them to a collaboration for a better life for the population"

— Djahida Boukhalfa, Regional Coordinator Nexus Dialogue in the MENA region at GIZ

The Middle East and North Africa region encompasses 22 countries spanning across the Mediterranean from Morocco to Egypt to the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf and the key river basins of the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates. The region is extremely arid with limited rainfall, groundwater sources and significant climate variability. Water scarcity is a feature in almost every Arab country.

Why are WEF Nexus Solutions Needed?

  • 50%

    Over 50% of Arab countries are considered water stressed

  • 80%

    Agriculture in MENA is responsible for more than 80% of overall water use

  • Until 2035

    Primary energy demand in the region is forecasted to increase consistently at a rate of 1.9% per year until 2035

  • By 2050

    Water availability is expected to decrease by 50% by 2050

  • 390 Million

    Arab population is currently over 390 million and is expected to increase 50% by 2050

  • 50 - 100%

    50–100% of the region’s food is imported

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Water and Agriculture

The majority of water resources in the region are being used for agriculture (85%). Subsidising water and food is common across the region, but the availability of inexpensive, heavily subsidized water has led to overuse and waste in the agricultural and municipal sectors. Domestic food security is high on the region’s agenda, but the scarce water resources, limited arable land and the compounded stress of climate change on these factors are major obstacles.

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  • NRD icon wave shaped

Water and Energy

The countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa are heavily dependent on fossil fuels and are one of the least efficient energy consumers in the world. Large subsidies on oil and natural gas are a contributing factor to the inefficient use of energy. Hydropower is the most dominant of renewable energies in the region, but is still only 0.8% of the energy mix. The management of water from shared basins is also an area of concern as more than 60% of surface water resources originate from outside the Arab region, impacting not only water availability but food production and energy generation. Expanding the use of solar energy for desalination, water pumping and to treat and re-use wastewater are key priorities.

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  • NRD icon crop shaped 1

Energy and Agriculture

Arab countries rely on imported food products to cover between 50 and 100% of their food needs, making them dependent on the volatility of the global food markets. Fossil fuels are the major input for domestic agricultural activity, so that unstable oil prices directly impact food prices. Increasing efficiency in all three resource sectors is a necessity, with high water losses in irrigated agriculture, endemic low energy efficiency and poor crop productivity hampering development region-wide. Stress on energy and food resources will be further compounded by population growth, increasing urbanisation, changing consumption patterns and the effects of climate change.

The key risk posed by the energy sector on food security is that the dependence on fossil fuels increases volatility of food prices and affects access to food.


 Changing hearts and minds with strong evidence   

When this project began in 2016, the goal was to create discussions about the WEF Nexus among policymakers and high-level regional organisations to generate a change in their thinking about the water, energy and food security. In its first phase, the Nexus Regional Dialogue Programme in the Middle East and North Africa achieved this through the following outcomes: 

Key Activities 

Ramping up ambition to increase the application of WEF Nexus in MENA 

 Building on the successes of the first phase, Phase II of the Nexus Regional Dialogue Programme in the Middle East and North Africa will focus on the practical application of the Nexus approach. 

The main objectives include:    

  • Mainstreaming of the Nexus through policy and investment dialogue events. 
  • Tailored trainings at regional and national level on Nexus tools, applications and bottom-up policy implications and recommendations. 
  • Tangible benefits of Nexus approach through support and documentation of demonstration projects 
  • Preparation of Nexus investment projects with support from public and private investors.

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