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Experts stress sustainable mgmt of water, energy and food



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By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Apr. 8: The climate of Nepal is dominated by monsoons and about 80 per cent of annual precipitation occurs during the summer monsoon, which is the reason the country is forced to deal with disasters such as floods and landslides, experts said.

Speaking at a workshop on “CGIAR NEXUS Gains Initiative Inception Workshop” led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) on Wednesday, experts highlighted the country will have water scarcity for nearly eight months and Nepal’s water security is thought to be among the weakest in Asia and the Pacific.

IWMI Nepal Office and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in collaboration with the Department of Water Resources and Irrigation (DoWRI) of the Government of Nepal, have launched a new research-for-development initiative named “NEXUS Gains for the Ganges Basin: Realising Multiple Benefits Across Water, Energy, Food, and Ecosystems (Forest, Biodiversity).”
A global CGIAR initiative, NEXUS Gains will examine water, energy, food, and ecosystem (WEFE) systems in transboundary bread-basket basins in East and Southern Africa (Blue Nile and Limpopo basins), Central Asia (Aral Sea basin), and South Asia (Ganges and Indus basins).

Inaugurating the workshop, Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal has said that natural resources are the mainstay of a country's economic development. In particular, water resources play an important role in food security, energy development and sustainability of ecosystems.

Minister Bhusal said that the 15th Plan of the Government of Nepal aimed at making Nepal prosperous by sustainable use of water resources. Therefore, proper management of water resources will have to be done. “We need to expand our economic and social development by making proper use of water resources,” she said.

Not only that, in the mountainous country of Nepal, agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, health, biodiversity, livelihood and other sectors have been affected by global climate change. There is a shortage of water in the dry season for drinking water, irrigation and power generation, Minister Bhusal said.

These conditions have further challenged the livelihood of the local community, especially women, the poor, indigenous tribes and the backward farmers, she said. There is a need for integrated study and research on the impact of development, management, and use of water resources on food, energy security, biodiversity conservation, and economic and social development, Minister Bhusal said.
Therefore, a sustainable and integrated approach is needed to address the growing demand for water, energy and food from an environmental perspective to reduce natural risks and increase resilience to climate change, according to Minister Bhusal.

Bimala Rai Paudyal, member of the National Assembly at the Federal Parliament, said that there was a need to bridge the gap between policymakers and research scientists so that policy is driven by more evidence and data. In reflecting on the feminisation of work in Nepal, she also highlighted the need to move from a vulnerability perspective to an "agency" approach to recognise women not as vulnerable groups, but as change agents and they need to be engaged as key actors in the nexus approach and practices.

Similarly, Juddha Gurung, a member of the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission, said that all sectors must work together in an integrated way, and programmes like NEXUS Gains should support generating evidence, tools, and approaches for enabling greater systems thinking at the field and basin levels.

Dipak Gyawali, an academic at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology and a former Minister of Water Resources, moderated an interactive panel discussion on “A journey to water, energy, food, and ecosystem (WEFE) nexus approach for achieving sustainable growth and inclusive development in Nepal’’ chaired by Sagar Kumar Rai, Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigations.

“We have no time to lose,” added Prof. Stefan Uhlenbrook, Initiative Lead for NEXUS Gains. “Inclusive, sustainable development requires integrated management WEFE systems. This is also critical to build climate resilience.”

Dr. Manohara Khadka, Country Representative, IWMI-Nepal, also said that integrated management of water, energy, land, food, forests and biodiversity resources in a climate crisis can support achieving socio-economic transformation and gender equality. For those reasons, NEXUS Gains will support the agency of women, youth, and marginalised groups as important actors of the WEFE governance.

The workshop was organised in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute Nepal (IRRI), Alliance of Bioversity International and International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and International Livestock Research Institute Nepal (ILRI), partners in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
During the workshop, participants shared their thoughts on opportunities and challenges to promote and institutionalise the water, energy, food and ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus approach in Nepal and identify potential activities within the framework of the NEXUS Gains initiative in the Ganges basin.

Participants also emphasised local solutions to the challenges facing water, energy, food, and ecosystem transformation while exploring how the transformation of these systems for equitable food, energy, and water security can be achieved in the Ganges basin in general, and Nepal in particular.