IWA/ICA Nexus Report

Commissioned by the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa, the International Water Association (IWA) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “Nexus Trade-offs and Strategies for Addressing the Water, Agriculture and Energy Security Nexus in Africa” provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities for multipurpose water infrastructure and outlines approaches for better integrating a multi-sectoral approach into infrastructure planning and development.

The “nexus” is the place where water, energy and agricultural security intersect. All rely on water infrastructure and the nexus can be used as a process for allocating resources to ensure water, energy and food security for Africa’s ever-growing population.

The key findings of the study can be summarised as:

  1. Water can be considered the most cross-cutting nexus element.
    Consequently, water sector infrastructure (both engineered and natural) is a strong entry point for multifunctionality.
  2. Silos and linear thinking are encountered behind and across national or regional boundaries and within institutions.
    This can result in single solutions to multiple problems remaining elusive.
  3. Political-economic issues may lead to short term thinking for long term needs/solutions.
    This can lead to politicians and planners competing over limited budgets and resources, leading to inefficient allocation, while sustainability and water productivity may be sacrificed in favour of cheaper, politically convenient, solutions.
  4. Which is the most effective: trade off, compromise or synergy?
    A political compromise between agricultural self-sufficiency and agricultural sector makeovers could make investment in combined energy and agriculture infrastructure desirable rather than controversial.
  5. Donor Drag.
    This may take different forms. The policies of donors and development finance institutions policies may lag behind promising and innovative new policy frameworks, or may fail to adapt and work with them. Donors and DFIs may also fail to adapt their products, tending instead to stick with a “one size fits all” approach. Donors and DFIs may also have incompatible and even opposing objectives in the same country.

The full report and a summary version are available to view and download (in English and French) from the Knowledge and Publications section of the ICA website, on the Nexus website and through the Nexus blog.

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