Africa’s sustainable development largely depends on goods and services derived from its environment and natural resource base. The environment and natural resources are crucial in Africa’s effort to eradicate poverty. Livelihood strategies and food security of the poor often depend directly on functioning ecosystems and the diversity of goods and ecological services they provide. Climate variability and change with its long-term implications for social, economic and ecological systems is an inevitable and urgent challenge. As Africa pursues sustainable growth pathways and structural transformation, the management of natural capital and most importantly water, land and energy resources is critical.
In helping address some of the complex and interdependent challenges, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) with support from the European Union recently held a SADC-EU project inception workshop on NEXUS at the SADC 7th River Basin Organizations’ (RBOs) meeting from the 22-24 May 2017 in the Vaal, South Africa.
A full day was dedicated for the various stakeholders from the region to review the relevance, design and expected results of the EU-SADC Nexus project. Over 120 participants attended the workshop representing the water, energy and food sectors of the SADC Member countries, major SADC RBOs, key partners and the SADC Secretariat. The main objective of the workshop was to facilitate contributions to the inception phase of the project by reviewing project components, and major activities and processes to be considered during implementation of the project.
Head of Infrastructure and Services Directorate, SADC Secretariat Mr. Phera Ramoeli officially opened the workshop. He noted that development and promotion of national and regional projects on Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus and other sectors was essential.
Ms. Veronica Girardi from the European Commission introduced the "Nexus Dialogues" Programme. The first phase of the program (2016-2019) with EUR 6.17m (jointly co-financed by the EC and BMZ) is expected to strategically steer on-going and newly established demand-driven Nexus policy-dialogue approaches in Africa (Niger and SADC), Latin America, Central Asia and Neighbourhood South regions. Phase I is expected to establish a nexus framework and identify nexus projects for investment with possibility of considerations in Phase II of the program. She emphasized that the nexus approach may introduce some innovative financing systems in the region. Olivier Cogels, EU consultant, also made a presentation focusing on the role of RBOs in the nexus approaches.
A number of partners from the SADC region also shared their experiences that are relevant to the WEF Nexus approaches. Dr. Kenneth Msibi, Senior Water Policy Advisor to SADC Water Division made a simple but practical local Nexus case by demonstrating the linkages between water-food-energy by taking a small private farm as a case. Others include case presentations by Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility (CRIDF), and University of Zambia on developing nexus assessment models in the Zambezi river basin.
Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) made presentations on the EU-SADC WEF Project, and facilitated discussions (including group works) with the aim of reviewing the project.
Participants of the workshop reviewed the project from the following perspectives:
- Nexus Governance/Enabling Environment for Nexus Approaches. The workshop discussed on the kind of nexus governance arrangements required at regional (SADC), basin organization, and country levels.
- Identification of Regional Nexus Projects. The participants identified preliminary Nexus projects. They have also identified aspects to be considered in identifying a nexus project.
- Nexus capacity and knowledge management. The workshop identified some of capacity and knowledge needs in the region for promoting the nexus approach. It also make a quick identification of partners for knowledge and capacity development.
- Nexus financing. Participants attempted to explore on financing innovations that the nexus approach may bring.
The workshop was very interactive and generated a number of very useful issues which will be considered during the final inception report as contributions of stakeholders to the inception phase of the project. The intentional invitation of the three sectoral departments from the 15 SADC countries has established the basis for initiating a SADC regional mechanism for technical coordination between the three sectors—named SADC WEF Reference Group. The Reference Group is expected to be formally recognized as a regional SADC structure to facilitate technical dialogues on WEF issues.
The workshop brought to fore the desire from different partners expressing interest in collaborating during the implementation of the project, especially around sharing knowledge and experiences. The workshop concluded with an agreement that the Inception Phase of the Project will be completed by end of June 2017, and implementation of the project will commence July 2017.