GLOBAL: Joined-up thinking on water, energy and food
15 March 2012
IRIN - March 15, 2012
JOHANNESBURG, 15 March 2012 (IRIN) - Africa’s third longest river, the Niger, is a source of water, food and energy for nine West African countries. But frequent droughts induced by a changing climate, and exacerbated by rapidly growing demand, pose a threat to water availability and livelihoods.
Big hydroelectric projects involving the building of dams on the river are restricting flow rates and affecting the lives of a million downstream herders, rice growers and people engaged in fishing, scientists warn.
The problem is that plans to harness water for electricity, irrigation and other uses were being developed separately both at the national and regional levels. Relevant officials were not talking to each other about the river and its ecosystems, said Sébastien Treyer, director of programmes at the Paris-based Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) who led a recent study on the basin.
However, countries and communities can overcome the problem of how to share water resources if they adopt what scientists call “the nexus approach”, a key agenda item at the week-long Water Forum in Marseilles, France. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research will convene a high level panel on the approach at the Forum on 16 March.
The nexus approach seeks to find solutions based on the interconnections between various sectors or disciplines and is being widely regarded along with “resilience” as a term that could revive sustainable development.