(C) Ali Hegazy, Unsplash
Peace and conflict

Transboundary Basin // Water-Energy-Food Nexus Sustainability in the Upper Blue Nile (UBN) Basin

By Mariam M. Allam and Elfatih A. B. Eltahir. This paper presents a framework for optimal allocation of a river basin's land and water resources between rain-fed and irrigated agriculture and hydropower. This framework is applied on the UBN basin as a case study of a water-scarce transboundary basin with escalated conflicts between the stakeholder countries sharing its waters to help find win-win opportunities. The land-water allocation model finds significant potential for expanding rain-fed agriculture covering up to half of the basin area by adding soil enhancements. The model also finds that only three of the 11 irrigation schemes proposed in Ethiopia's master plan make economic sense and grow mostly sugarcane in these irrigated areas. There is a clear trade-off between expanding the rain-fed agriculture potential in the UBN basin and saving the water for hydropower production at the GERD. This trade-off can offer an opportunity for a win-win solution for the Nile conflict if the countries decide to cooperate in investing in an efficient rain-fed agricultural expansion in the basin and sharing the benefits and costs.

The Nile basin ecosystem is under stress due to rapid population growth, inefficient utilization of resources, climate change, and persistent conflicts among riparian countries. The Blue Nile is a major tributary of the Nile River and contributes about 60% of the total annual flow.

This paper presents a framework for optimal allocation of land and water resources in the upper Blue Nile (UBN) basin. This framework consists of two optimization models that aim to:

  1. allocate land and water resources optimally to rain-fed and irrigated agriculture, and
  2. allocate water to agriculture and hydropower production while maximizing the total net benefits.

The optimal agricultural expansion is expected to reduce the UBN flow by about 7.6 cubic kilometers, impacting the downstream countries Egypt and Sudan. Optimal operation rules for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam (GERD) are identified to maximize annual hydropower generation from the dam while achieving a relatively uniform monthly production rate.

Trade-offs between agricultural expansion and hydropower generation are analyzed in an attempt to define scenarios for cooperation that would achieve win-win outcomes for the three riparian countries sharing the basin waters.


Frontiers in Environmental Science (open access)


January 2019


Front. Environ. Sci. 7:5. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00005

› back

Solar-powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS)

Nexus Publicación // Manual de Capacitación Equipo Móvil de Bombeo Solar

Desarrollar y fortalecer capacidades de asesoramiento técnico y formulación de proyectos de agua, energía solar y producción de alimentos, en personal técnico del sector público y privado, así como en familias campesinas mediante su formación práctica utilizando un Equipo Móvil de Bombeo Solar demostrativo. La publicación1 de la Caja de herramientas de sistemas de riego solar ha sido posible gracias al apoyo brindado por la iniciativa mundial PAEGC. En 2012, la Agencia de los Estados Unidos para...

// more

WEF Nexus Publication // Applying the Water-Energy-Food Nexus Approach to Catalyse Transformational Change in Africa

RES4Africa Foundation’s new study carried out in collaboration with Open Economics, looks at a WEF nexus project in rural Tanzania integrating hydro-powered mini-grid and agri-business usages that distributes water, power and food services to the surrounding communities. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects that the innovative Nexus project can have on a specific area. In doing this, a microeconomic impact assessment was developed to evaluate economic, social and environmental costs...

// more

WEF Nexus Research // Solar Energy Farming as a Development Innovation for Vulnerable Water Basins

By Mohammad Al-Saidi and Nisreen Lahham. This article evaluates a project from the Azraq Basin in Jordan, and presents similar international experiences, particularly from India. It assesses solar energy farming as an innovation from a water-energy-food nexus perspective.

// more