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Nexus Guidelines successfully approved and adopted by the Niger Basin Authority

A great Milestone indeed!

The Niger Basin Authority (NBA) has approved formal guidelines on the integration of the Water, Energy, Food and Environmental sustainability (WEFE) Nexus approach to assist in the development and management of sustainable development programs in the Niger Basin.

The guidelines have been ratified by all responsible Ministers of the Niger Basin member States during the Council of Ministers in N’djamena (Chad) in December 2022. It is a huge headway in the process of fulfilling the NBA’s aim “to promote cooperation among the member countries and ensure an integrated development of the Niger Basin in all the fields of energy, water resources, agriculture, livestock, fishing and fish-fanning, forestry and forestry exploitation, transport and communications and industry”, as stated in its revised convention in 1987.

Building on already existing principles of the NBA Water charter, mainly based on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) principles, the hereby adopted Nexus guidelines specify rules to assess the WEFE Nexus criteria in development programs and projects. In this regard, policymakers will use a quantitative and a qualitative approach to evaluate new projects.

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To ensure the prosperity of the population in the basin, the same resources are often used. Water for energy and agriculture, energy for pumping and food processing, or soil for livestock, agriculture or power plants. These interconnections between sectors create the need for a comprehensive planning of available natural resources.

— Niandou Mounkaila, Technical Director of the NBA

Infobox: The Niger Basin Authority

The Niger Basin Authority (NBA) is an intergovernmental agency tasked with promoting coordinated development in the water, energy, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forestry, mining, transport and communication sectors in the Niger River Basin. Its member states are Niger, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Cameroon, Mali, Benin, Nigeria and Chad. At the basin level, the NBA is responsible both for horizontal (i.e. across countries) and vertical linkages (i.e. between different levels of stakeholders). It is increasingly tasked to link these concerns to regional and global agendas. There is hence a need for an approach that facilitates the design of contextual and cross-sectoral solutions based on horizontally and vertically integrated interventions.

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The Niger River Basin @ Geneva Water Hub

A long and rocky road: how the Nexus guidelines became reality

The NBA nexus guidelines are the result of a long participatory approach: The first step was the preparation of a draft document by consultants from the University of Ottawa based on country-level observations and recommendations made during workshops in phase I of the Nexus Regional Dialogue programme. In 2022, the draft has been further elaborated during 3-day workshops in all nine Member States and finalised during a regional evaluation workshop. The events were organized by GIZ in cooperation with the respective National Focal Structures (NFS) and the NBA and with the support of the University of Ottawa. Participants included not only representatives from the above-mentioned institutions but also representatives from national ministries, dam agencies, NGOs, private and scientific sectors, as well as user groups and traditional chiefs.

An amended version has been submitted to the Technical Expert Committee of the NBA composed again of representatives from all 9 member states, who prepared a recommendation to the Council of Ministers. 

Subsequently, after final amendments, the guidelines were ratified by the council as an official document of the NBA!

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An opening definition lays out the added value of the WEFE Nexus approach for the basin:

“The Nexus is defined as an integrated approach that takes into consideration the identification of linkages between several sectors and their objectives, as well as the reduction of negative tradeoffs and the strengthening of positive synergies to reconcile the various human and environmental development needs that depend on or compete for the same resources. The Guidelines propose an integrated approach that considers the links between water, energy, food security, and the environmental sustainability of development programs and projects to maximize the benefits for the Basin's population and to ensure that investments in one sector do not significantly harm other sectors. As such, they will strengthen the feasibility and bankability of the programs and projects of the operational plan and other projected development projects and programs in the Niger Basin.”

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For our future programs and projects, this will allow us to maximise the benefits to the population of the basin and ensure that investments in one sector do not significantly harm other sectors. As such, it will enhance the feasibility and bankability of the programmes and projects in the operational plan and other planned investments in the Niger basin

— Niandou Mounkaila, Technical Director of the NBA

Nexus Guidelines for a basin-wide sustainable future!

The process of development and validation of a set of Nexus guidelines for the NBA stems from the wish to spur regional cooperation for an integrated management of available water resources and associated ecosystems for sustainable development and better livelihoods for populations. In this perspective, the Nexus guidelines will help to strengthen the feasibility and bankability of projects of the operational plan and to ensure that sectorial investments do not compete.

The implementation of these guidelines falls into the responsibility of the Executive Secretariat of the NBA which will evaluate them to integrate the WEFE Nexus approach into development programs and projects.

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The Nexus Regional Dialogue in the Niger Basin

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The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in the Niger Basin

Together with national and regional partners, the Nexus Regional Dialogue in the Niger Basin, co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Ministry for Development and Cooperation (BMZ), promotes the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus approach in the region to ensure the sustainable management of water, energy and food resources.

The WEF Nexus approach focuses on negotiating trade-offs, inspiring compromises and uncovering synergies to ensure water, energy and food security in the long run. It further promotes policy coherence and cooperation between all three sectors at the regional, local and global level. The approach has proven successful for the women’s cooperative in Kollo, where it was implemented as part of a demonstration project.

The WEF Nexus approach represents a paradigm shift in the international development agenda as a holistic approach to resource use in the context of a green economy and basic supply security. Currently in its second phase, the Nexus Regional Dialogues support regional stakeholders to operationalize the WEF Nexus concept into policy recommendations and pilot projects. It is jointly funded by the European Commission and the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and implemented by the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).


Learn more about the work and achievements of the Nexus Regional Dialogue in the Niger Basin and get to know the challenges of water, energy and food security in the region.

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