Part 1: Luca Ferrini; Regional Coordinator for the Nexus Dialogue in the Niger River Basin
Luca Ferrini is the regional coordinator for the Nexus Dialogue in the Niger River Basin (West and Central Africa) since 2017. He is based in Niamey, Niger. The main objective of the Niger Basin Nexus Dialogue is to advise and support the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) and its member states to incorporate the WEF Nexus approach into the management of the basin. In practice, this includes putting in place cross-sectoral policies and projects within the operational and investment plan of the NBA as well as within regional resource planning. The nine member states of the NBA are Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.
Previously, Luca worked for a European multi-donor programme on Energy Access in Africa, advising the European Commission in Brussels. He also led research projects on multidimensional poverty in rural communities in South-Western Uganda. His interests lie in poverty eradication, the combination of socio-economic development and environmental sustainability, and effective altruism. He holds an MSc in Comparative Social Policy from the University of Oxford, UK.
“WEF Nexus is an approach, a mindset. It means keeping in mind the other sectors when working in one sector to increase either water security, energy security, or food security.”
Luca, what does WEF Nexus mean to you and how would you describe it in one sentence?
L: WEF Nexus is an approach, a mindset. It means keeping in mind the other sectors when working in one sector to increase either water security, energy security, or food security. It means that if you have an intervention that aims to increase food security, for example, from the very beginning in the design of the project we should be also thinking of the effect on water security and energy security. And always considering the environment. This is because the natural resources necessary to achieve water security, energy security and food security tend to overlap. There are tradeoffs: using certain resources for one of the securities means having less to achieve other securities. And there are synergies: if interventions are well planned, two or more securities can be improved with the same resource base.
What are the main Nexus challenges in the Niger River Basin?
L: A main challenge is the difficulty in prioritizing needs. Like a participant in one of our workshops said: “here all needs are priority”. These are some of the poorest countries in the world. But this is why Nexus is useful, it allows to obtain multiple goals at the same time by maximizing synergies. For the Niger basin for example, the nine basin countries have agreed that in a situation of emergency and scarcity, the use of water for human drinking has to be prioritized; if water suffices for that goal, next use that can be met is water for agriculture and animal use; and if that can be met, it can then be used for hydropower.
In your opinion, what is the most promising approach for implementing/mainstreaming WEF Nexus in your region and why?
L: From my experiences, it is very important to identify and promote concrete Nexus demonstrators for inspiration! Further, instead of looking for complex and high-investment solutions, it is much more effective to rather support poor-friendly, low-investment and easy solutions such as animal grazing for fertilizing small garden agriculture. Last, we learned that it is essential to show economic gains (short and long-term) of the WEF Nexus approach and attach an economic value to ecosystems and climate vulnerability in order to convince practitioners, decision makers and society at large of the ultimate benefits of the Nexus approach.
Thank you Luca for taking time to answer the questions!
More information about the Nexus Dialogue in the Niger River Basin: