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Quantifying the Sustainability of Water Availability // Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystem Nexus in the Niger River Basin

Water, food, energy, and the ecosystems they depend on interact with each other in highly complex and interlinked ways. These interdependencies can be traced particularly well in the context of a river basin, which is delineated by hydrological boundaries. Using the example of the Niger River Basin in West Africa, this study assesses the impact of climate and human/anthropogenic changes on the water, energy, food, and ecosystem sectors. It characterizes the resulting trade-offs through a set of generic metrics related to the sustainability of water availability.

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Abstract

Water, food, energy, and the ecosystems they depend on interact with each other in highly complex and interlinked ways. These interdependencies can be traced particularly well in the context of a river basin, which is delineated by hydrological boundaries. The interactions are shaped by humans interacting with nature, and as such, a river basin can be characterized as a complex, coupled socioecological system. The Niger River Basin in West Africa is such a system, where water infrastructure development to meet growing water, food, and energy demands may threaten a productive and vulnerable basin ecosystem.These dynamic interactions remain poorly understood. Trade-off analyses between different sectors and at different spatial scales are needed to support solution-oriented policy analysis, particularly in transboundary basins. This study assesses the impact of climate and human/anthropogenic changes on the water, energy, food, and ecosystem sectors and characterizes the resulting trade-offs through a set of generic metrics related to the sustainability of water availability. Results suggest that dam development can mitigate negative impacts from climate change on hydropower generation and also on ecosystem health tosome extent.

Authors

  • Jie Yang, State Key Laboratory of Eco-hydraulics in Northwest Arid Region of China, Xi’an University of Technology, Xi’an, China; Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA
  • Y. C. Ethan Yang, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA
  • Hassaan F. Khan, Department of Civil andEnvironmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA
  • Hua Xie, International Food Policy ResearchInstitute, Washington, DC, USA
  • Claudia Ringler, International Food Policy ResearchInstitute, Washington, DC, USA,
  • Andrew Ogilvie, G-EAU, AgroParisTech, Cirad, IRD, IRSTEA, Montpellier SupAgro, Université de Montpellier,Montpellier, France
  • Ousmane Seidou, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada,
  • Abdouramane Gado Djibo, Wetlands International, Bamako, Mali
  • Frank van Weert, Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands
  • Rebecca Tharme, Riverfutures, Derbyshire, UK

This is a publication of Complex Adaptive Water Systems (CAWS).

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CAWS website

Complex Adaptive Water Systems (CAWS) 

CAWS is a group of scientists (and scientists-to-be)  in Lehigh University, Bethlehem PA USA, who use different quantitative approaches to solve the complex water management issues around the world. We are physically located in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Lehigh University. CAWS's most recent projects focus on the dynamic interaction (or Nexus) among food, energy, water, and environment at different spatial and temporal scales. They use the Agent-based modeling (ABM) approach coupled with progress-based models to evaluate both natural and human behavior uncertainty in a Couple Natural-Human complex system.

Published

August 2018

Published in

Earth’s Future, Volume 6, Issue 9, Pages 1292-1310

Further Reading 

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