CGIAR: Water + Food 8 Case Studies


Below are brief synopses of eight case studies that support the ideas promoted at the High Level Panel on the Water, Food & Energy Nexus, an event co-convened by CPWF at the 6th World Water Forum. Visit our landing page to learn more about CPWF’s involvement in this event and download the complete case study booklet.

Ensuring water, food and energy security in the ECOWAS region 

ECOWAS, the Economic Community of Western African States, is a regional organisation founded in 1975 of 15 West African states (Senegal, Cabo Verde, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria) with a total population of more than 250 million people.

The Senegal, Gambia, Niger, and Volta rivers, along with their tributaries, play an integral role in the regional economies. This spurred ECOWAS to develop a Water Resources Coordination Unit to integrate regional and national sectoral policies on water resource concerns.

With five dams being built and more than 30 being planned, the region illustrates the importance of advance planning to ensure that the water, food and energy sectors work together and develop the water resources sustainably.

Read more on page 5 of the case study booklet.


Water for Food, Energy and Ecosystems: Case of the Inner Niger Delta, Mali
Submitted by Wetlands International

In Mali, the limited water resources of the Niger and Bani rivers play a pivotal role in economic development for rural and urban communities. The large annual variation in the river flows impacts the production of food–more famine years have occurred during the last few decades. In response, more hydroelectric and irrigation projects have been developed.

As a result, however, the competition for water resources has intensified and ecosystem services have been degraded or lost, resulting in reduced food security downstream in the Inner Niger Delta. It has therefore become important to clarify the trade-offs and inter-linkages between different sector objectives and their seasonal water demands.

Read more on page 11 of the case study booklet.


From conflict to sharing the benefits of water resources, the case of Machángara River BasinCouncil, Cuenca, Ecuador
Submitted by CPWF

The Machángara River basin is located in southern Ecuador, in the provinces of Azuay and Cañar. It is one of the country’s most important watersheds, with two of the countries biggest hydroelectric power plants. It provides water for the city of Cuenca and collects 305 cubic hectares of rainwater every year.

Before 1998, there were considerable problems with natural resource management—where each sector planned according to its own needs and not that of the basin overall.  More than thirty-two conflicts were recorded. These typically took place between hydropower companies and upstream communities and downstream irrigation users, with access to water as the main cause of conflicts and tension.

A Basin Council was established in 1998 to improve coordination; its membership includes the regional water and sewerage authority, the irrigation management agency, the main electric power utility, the national water secretariat, the Ministry of Environment (which protects the forests that cover much of the basin) and small-scale farmers from the area.

One key achievement is a significant increase in both access to an improved water source (82% in 1990 to 97% in 2004 in urban areas) and adequate sanitation (77% in 1990 to 94% in 2004 in urban areas). In addition, upstream communities, among the poorest and most marginalized in the Andes, have been provided with incentives and support in managing the upper paramos or grasslands.

Read more on page 19 of the case study booklet.


Improving the water and energy efficiency for food production through drip irrigation in India

Submitted by Jain Irrigation Systems

India is the largest freshwater user in the world, and the agricultural sector is the biggest user of water. Groundwater supplies about 65% of the country’s total water demand and plays an important role in shaping the nation’s economic and social development.

As water demands have increased, innovations in agricultural water management have kept pace. Recent breakthroughs in micro-irrigation technologies, utilizing drip and sprinkler irrigation methods are a case in point. Unlike conventional flood irrigation, water in this method is supplied intermittently using a pipe network, emitters and nozzles. Thus, the conveyance and distribution losses are reduced, creating greater efficiencies of water usage. Minimizing water use also reduces energy use for pumping groundwater.

The adoption rate of micro-irrigation technologies is increasing. The market share of JIS in drip irrigation technologies is around 60% in India. Also, it is worth mentioning that JIS has launched new technologies for arid areas using solar pumps. This system provides water to the crop root zones with greater efficiency (and less water waste), saving electricity (or providing electricity with solar panels) and producing more from less.

Read more on page 27 of the case study booklet.


Building the sustainable: the challenges of meeting energy and livelihoods objectives at the same time in Laos

Submitted by CPWF

The Nam Theun Hinboun is one of the largest dams in Laos, the so-called ‘battery of Southeast Asia’. This run-of-the-river dam was commissioned in 1998, has 210 MW installed capacity, generating some 1,500 GWh per year, 90% of which is destined for the Thai energy markets. The plant exploits the difference in altitude between the Nam Theun (from which it derives its water supply) and the Nam Hinboun (in to which water is emptied having passed through the plant’s turbines). The dam is currently expanding its operations – the so-called Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project (THXP), which will increase installed capacity by 60 MW.

One of the areas in which hydropower developments are most critiqued is in the area of resettlement. Nam Theun Hinboun has sought to meet the concerns of its detractors as well as the expectations of its shareholders by embarking on pre-emptive “livelihoods reconstruction” (as the World Bank calls it).  The approach taken was to open up a wide variety of opportunities for the resettled households, including health, education, agriculture, housing and development infrastructure, such as energy.

In resettling 4,000 people, the company could not adopt a one-size-fits all approach. Under any circumstances, this process is a challenge, and the company has dealt with most of the innumerable problems thrown up by constantly monitoring and evaluating resettlement and the progress of individual households. It has also used an adaptive management process; clear objectives are established but flexibility in implementation is provided to handle problems as they occur.

Read more on page 35 of the case study booklet.


The Southeaster Anatolia Project (GAP): An Integrated Approach to Irrigation and Hydropower Development in Turkey
Submitted by Turkish Water Institute (SUEN)

The Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP, Turkish acronym) is a multi-sector regional development programme for Turkey’s least developed region. The programme covers nine provinces in Southeastern Turkey, approximately 10 percent of both the total population and geographic area of Turkey, and aims to facilitate social and economic development in the sectors of irrigation, energy, agriculture, rural and urban infrastructure, forestry, industry, education, health, transport, etc.

The GAP region has a disproportionate share of Turkey’s irrigable land—20 percent—and of Turkey’s total hydraulic potential—28 percent. The total cost of the project is estimated as 30 billion USD in 2011 prices.

The main aim of GAP is to convert the region into a base of agricultural export, but investing in energy infrastructure is also important. In the framework of the project, 15 dams were constructed on the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The region befitted from these dams, which provided a more constant water flow during times of drought and flood.

As far as irrigation investments under GAP are concerned, priority was given to water storage. Currently, 15 dams have been completed and a water-holding capacity sufficient for irrigating 366,000 hectares of land was created. While this translates to only 20% of all targeted irrigation investments against 74 % of hydropower generation realized so far, the total agricultural productsexported from the region increased from 34 million USD in 2002 to 1.7 billion USD in 2011.

Also, the number of industrial enterprises in the region has almost doubled from 2002 to 2010. Competition over water consumption for hydropower generation, irrigation and industry was not experienced in the region.

Most importantly, these developments and their coordination improved livelihoods in the region. The seasonal migration rate from the region decreased from 70 percent to 11 percent and the total migration rate has reduced by half from 2008 to 2010 as a result of irrigation projects.

Read more on page 41 of the case study booklet.


From Serre-Poncon (France) to Nam Theun (Laos) : Hydropower schemes, back to a sustainable and muti-purpose future integrating water, energy and food needs
Submitted by EDF

Currently, hydropower generates 90% of the world’s renewable electricity production. The development of a hydro project is a powerful tool for local and regional development and also combats poverty and global warming. Hydropower is sustainable if social and environmental issues are properly addressed.

The Serre-Ponçon dam, commissioned in 1966, is the most outstanding architectural structure of the Durance and Verdon River system. An innovative consultation process was critical to gain the acceptance of local residents.  Now, with 32 hydropower plants, the dam facilitates the production of 6.5 billion kWh of renewable electricity, supplies drinking water and water for industrial purposes to an entire region and irrigates over 150,000 hectares of farmland with a guaranteed storage of 200 million cubic meters in the summer. The regulation of water flow and irrigation allowed the development of agriculture in downstream areas. The reservoir of Serre-Ponçon has become a destination, with tourism revenues at approximately €100 to €150 million Euros  annually.

The 1070 MW Nam Theun 2 (NT2) hydropower project is a trans-basin project (partially diverting some of the water flow from Nam Theun river to Xe Bang Fai River). The 45m high dam creates a 450 km2 and 3.5 billion m3 reservoir . Power generation, irrigation, flood control, clean drinking water, access to the reservoir for fishing and boating are the different benefits of the scheme which is a major contributor to the socio- economic development of the entire region, including Thailand.

A high level of public consultation and disclosure has been a priority to ensure that all affected people are fully informed of the Project and that their views are taken into consideration. Over 250 public consultations and workshops were organized at all levels (local, national, regional, international). Nam Theun 2 has benefited and continues to benefit from a level of consultations within Laos that has not been seen before, between the local government, project developers, the Project Company and the World Bank.

Read more on page 47 of the case study booklet.


DEUS 21 = DEcentralised Urban Infrastructure System

Prepared by Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research

Drastic changes in the framework conditions of our water infrastructure systems can already be perceived: climate change leads to changes in quantities of precipitation and in rainfall distribution, demographic change (for example a decrease in Germany, but a strong increase in megacities) will lead to clear changes in the number of users of such systems, and new ecological requirements, e.g. in terms of rainwater management or removal of additional pollutants will be introduced sooner or later.

Therefore it is necessary to develop and implement innovative and sustainable water infrastructure systems with high flexibility. The innovative DEUS 21-concept is especially promising for areas with no former type of water infrastructure of for smaller communities in agricultural regions because anaerobically treated wastewater can be used for irrigation and fertilization. Another advantage is that nutrients can be recycled from wastewater, which can itself be re-used. As energy is also fed back, relatively small-scale material cycles can be set up profitably.

The aims of DEUS21 were to build up a resource-oriented, semi-decentralized approach in water supply and sanitation, which integrates the treatment of wastewater and bio waste in one single process, having as outcomes biogas, recycled nutrients and the treated wastewater.

The outcomes of the DEUS-Process besides the treated wastewater are valuable products that can be used for energy generation and food production. Wastewater contains useful resources that should be recycled – the DEUS project is an approach to fulfil this target.

Read more on page 55 of the case study booklet.



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