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Title: Towards the development of an Energy-Water-Food Security Nexus based modelling framework as a policy and planning tool for South Africa
Authors: Prasad, Gisela
Stone, Adrian
Hughes, Alison
Stewart, Theodor
Date: 2012
Abstract: With the increasing pressure of population on global resources and the imperative of climate change there is a growing interest in the idea of the “Energy-Water-Food Security Nexus”, essentially an application of systems thinking to planning that recognises that the resources in the nexus are intimately linked and need to be considered together. This paper describes a project, currently at the funding stage, to develop a modelling framework for South Africa to be used as a tool for policy development and the planning of practical interventions. The need for the modelling framework was identified in the course of a desktop study on the nexus in the context of climate change and this paper explores a portion of this work and the rationale for a modelling framework. This background material examines how water and energy are treated separately or are combined and outlines research needs to realize the opportunities an analysis of the nexus can provide in terms of resource use efficiency and policy coherence. Traditional energy and water modelling is orientated toward large infrastructure planning and large commercial irrigation projects. This project has as its goal the development of a modelling framework that will tackle the former with a nexus approach but also attempt to provide an effective policy tool for the interlinked water, energy and food security problems of remote and impoverished areas, possibly including climate change as another layer of complexity These areas will usually not be attractive for large scale industrial or agricultural interventions and other means may be necessary to sustainably supply the rural poor with energy, water and sufficient food. A case study has been developed centred around the municipality of Elundini, located in the North of the Eastern Cape. The area is a catchment for the Umzimvubu River and is characterised by rugged, mountainous terrain. The catchment area has been the subject of many engineering studies because of the abundance of water, one of which observed, “The Mzimvubu River is the catchment which simultaneously has both the most available water and the greatest poverty in South Africa.”. Typically such studies have however shown that because of the remote and rugged terrain, infrastructure like hydropower plants are at best marginally feasible in economic terms. Similarly commercial scale irrigation schemes have been deemed inappropriate given the terrain and prevailing land tenure practices and skills levels. The case study will seek to apply a nexus orientated modelling framework to develop practical interventions for not only supplying power and piped water where it is lacking but also improving current agricultural practices by, for instance, providing a framework for evaluating the feasibility of localised gravity fed irrigation schemes. The issue of the type of agricultural products to target with these schemes is central and as has been seen in other countries, needs to be not only high value but supported by institutions that underwrite and emphasise the purity and naturalness of mountain produce as value added. Such produce has been seen to also greatly enhance the tourism potential of such areas. Technology is seldom now the barrier to such initiatives and the sustainability of interventions is more dependent on local skills development and on-going institutional development and support, aspects which will be central to the modelling framework.
Project Number: 106298
Project Title: Clean Energy and Water : an Assessment of Services for Adaptation to Climate Change
Access: IDRC Only
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