Navigating transformational change for the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Africa
The Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus is an important concept that recognizes the interdependencies between the water, energy, and food system. In Africa, the WEF nexus is particularly relevant because the continent faces challenges regarding food security, access to modern energy services, and water resource management. What’s more, all these challenges stand to be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. Governing the interconnections between these systems in a sustainable way is, therefore, a critical challenge facing many regions, including the Volta and Tana River basins.
One approach to managing these challenges is through the application of a Transition Governance Framework (TGF). TGF is an iterative and participatory approach that aims to facilitate and manage transitions to sustainable futures. Applying the TGF in the EPIC Africa project requires a participatory approach that engages visionary thinkers and doers from across the WEF sectors, providing a kaleidoscopic look at the challenges at hand. These visionary thinkers can stem from many different organizations, including government agencies, civil society organizations, academia, research institutes, the private sector, and local communities. It also requires a strong focus on building capacity and supporting learning to ensure that the process is adaptive and responsive to changing conditions.Read More
The TGF is based on four iterative phases: (1) pre-assessment, (2) visioning and back-casting, (3) experimentation and learning, and (4) mainstreaming and scaling up. In the context of the EPIC project, the TGF will be applied for both the Volta and Tana River basins to identify the complex and interconnected challenges facing these systems and to develop integrated pathways to a sustainable future supported by WEF modeling.
- Pre-assessment: This phase involves conducting a comprehensive assessment of the existing WEF nexus governance in the Volta and Tana River basins, including identifying the key challenges and opportunities. This will involve mapping the existing WEF systems, analyzing trends and drivers, and engaging with stakeholders through a survey and qualitative interviews to understand their perspectives.
- Visioning and back-casting: In this phase, visionary thinkers will come together in a safe ‘transition space’ to develop a shared vision of a desirable future for the WEF nexus in the Volta and Tana River basins. This involves identifying the key goals and objectives and developing a back-casting plan to work backward from the desired future to identify the steps needed to get there.
- Experimentation and learning: This phase involves piloting and testing the trade-offs involved in setting different goals and objectives, and realizing the pathways needed to attain sustainable futures. This testing will be done with the open-source WEF planning and modeling tool developed in parallel to the TGF research stream by the EPIC Africa modeling partners.
- Mainstreaming and scaling up: In this final phase, robust pathway elements (this can be social, technological, and/or policy innovations) are mainstreamed and scaled up to achieve a broader impact. This will involve working with the wider set of stakeholders involved in the project through the EPIC Africa Research Network (EARN) to build capacity and support for these approaches.
In the past, the TGF has already been successfully applied by VITO to the governance of the water system in Flanders (Belgium). The result is an array of fundamental views on a robust water system by 2050 at the latest. The TGF enabled the formulation of multidisciplinary points of view and speaks in different languages such as text, poetry, photography, and cartoons (https://h2050.be/en/about-arena). In conclusion, the WEF nexus in the Volta and Tana River basins presents a complex and interconnected set of challenges that require a coordinated and integrated approach to address. The TGF provides a useful framework for managing these challenges, by facilitating a participatory and iterative process of transition to sustainable and desirable futures. By engaging stakeholders and building capacity, it is possible to achieve sustainable and equitable outcomes for the WEF nexus in the Volta and Tana River basins.
DATE: Tuesday, 2nd March, 2023
Supporting Sustainable Development in Africa through EPIC Project
Africa is a continent rich in natural resources, but also facing many challenges such as climate change, food insecurity, water scarcity, and energy poverty. To address these issues, integrated planning and management of water, energy, and food systems is essential. However, such planning requires reliable and accessible data on the availability and use of these resources, as well as their interactions and impacts.
That’s why TAHMO (Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory) is proud to be part of the EPIC Africa project, a research initiative funded by the Horizon Europe program. EPIC Africa stands for Energy Planning and Modelling through Integrated Assessment of Climate-Land-Energy-Water Nexus in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Cases of the Volta and Tana River Basins. The project aims to support sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa by developing and applying integrated modeling tools and data for long-term planning and operational management of water, energy, and food systems while engaging with stakeholders and policy-makers in a co-creation process.Read More
TAHMO’s role in the project is to set up the EPIC Africa CLEWs Data Observatory, a platform for integrating and accessing data on climate, land, energy, and water systems needed for planning and operational decisions. TAHMO has a vast network of weather stations across Africa, providing data on temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, and more. These data are essential for understanding the current and future climate conditions and their impacts on water availability and quality, crop production, and energy generation. TAHMO will also contribute to the development of the Data Management Plan and the operational optimization models for water and energy systems.
By participating in the EPIC Africa project, TAHMO hopes to enhance its mission of providing high-quality weather data for various applications in Africa. TAHMO also hopes to strengthen its collaboration with other partners in the project, such as universities, research institutes, NGOs, and government agencies from both Africa and Europe. Together, we aim to co-create solutions that can help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and improve the lives of millions of people in Africa.
To learn more about the EPIC Africa project, visit https://epicafrica.eu/