Professor Subhes Bhattacharyya, from the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development, De Montfort University and Nicola Bugatti and Hannes Bauer from the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), investigate approaches to energy, food and water security in West Africa in their Nexus Network thinkpiece ‘A bottom-up approach to the nexus of energy, food and water security in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region‘.
Download the thinkpiece Bhattacharyya thinkpiece_2015
Whilst the ECOWAS region has many challenges, the region is growing fast economically. An integrated approach to development is imperative to make best use of the available resources to ensure sustainable development.
- Across the region, the population size is over 300 million with potential for this to double by 2030.
- Almost 58% live in rural areas.
- 42% lived below the poverty line in 2010.
- Most of the countries ranked poorly in terms of Human Development Index.
- 35% of the population lacked access to drinking water in 2010.
- 74% did not have access to improved sanitation.
- Only approximately 12% of potentially irrigable land is irrigated at present.
- On the other hand, the region boasts of significant oil and gas resources, a large hydro-electricity potential of 25000 MW.
The paper reviews water-energy-food policy integration in the ECOWAS community. The authors find that policy integration has been initiated through various regional efforts aimed at improving food security, access to energy and energy efficiency, promote renewable energies, and co-ordinate water resources in the region but that top-down approaches have limitations;
States within ECOWAS community have experienced the consequences of inappropriate or weak policy integration at the national and local levels. The promotion of biofuels and the consequent land-and water-grabbing phenomena have caused adverse effects in a number of countries. Conflicts of interest exist amongst beneficiaries of trans-boundary water basins in respect of prioritisation of water use for agriculture and hydropower development.
The authors conclude that innovative ‘bottom-up’ approaches with the support of NGOs, private entrepreneurs and private-public partnerships, can be successful, but need to be scaled up;
These participatory processes confirm that local resources can be appropriately managed at the decentralised level through adequate capacity building, stakeholder involvement, and an appropriate supporting environment. By promoting such initiatives at a large scale, the sustainable development agenda can be taken forward and a fairer, equitable and prosperous living condition can be established.
Read the full thinkpiece Bhattacharyya thinkpiece_2015
Image credit: with thanks to Emilio Labrador on flickr.