The Mediterranean Region is facing growing challenges to ensure food and water supply as countries experience increasing demand and decreasing availability of natural resources. The nexus approach aims at managing and leveraging synergies across sectors with an efficient and integrated management of the Water, Energy, Food, and Ecosystems Nexus (WEFE).

BONEX objectives are to provide practical and adapted tools, examine concrete and context-adapted technological innovations, enhance policies and governance and facilitate WEFE Nexus practical implementation that balances the social, economic, and ecological trade-offs.

The project aims at producing a novel, transdisciplinary, diagnostic WEFE Bridging Framework, which combines methods in a context-specific manner and going beyond disciplinary silos. The diagnostic tools supporting the framework will be developed and tested in seven selected demonstration projects in the region which pilot innovative technologies (agrivoltaics, wastewater reuse systems, etc.).

As a result, BONEX will provide policymakers and practitioners with an interactive decision-making tool to evaluate trade-offs, synergies, and nexus solutions approaches in a transdisciplinary manner. Further, it will produce valuable experiences with tailoring innovative WEFE Nexus technologies that provides new business opportunities. The WEFE nexus approach is required to implement sustainable agri-food systems and preserve ecosystems.

Within BONEX FutureWater will actively contribute to the package of diagnostic tools. A simple water accounting tool (REWAS) will be used to evaluate if ‘Real Water Savings’ are achieved with innovative technologies. The water accounting tool evaluates water flows at field level and irrigation district scale and determines if any ‘real savings’ are achieved. The tool also incorporates the aspects of food production (crop yield) and will introduce components for evaluating energy and water quality aspects to complement the WEFE Nexus aspects. The seven demonstration projects will be used to demonstrate and iteratively develop this water accounting tool. A hydrological analysis is performed in selected locations to also evaluate the impact at basin (watershed) scale. Eventually the results from these analyses will be translated into policy implications and achievements of SDG’s (sustainable development goals).

This project is part of the PRIMA programme supported by the European Union.

The study will focus on selection of key traded crops between the EU and Africa and their key producing regions. The tasks will include overall analysis of current practices and the background in the regions, determination of key sensitive parameters in order to select key crops and food products and map hotspot regions. In addition, project team will assess climate risks for these hotspots on key crops and food products and link these risks with the importing countries. Climate risks will be assessed by identifying the multiple climate sensitivities on the food systems in each region, assessing changes predicted by a CMIP6 (latest) climate model ensemble on key agriculture-related climate indices, and analysing impacts on production-related indices, distinguishing between rainfed and irrigated production systems. It will be focused on country specific case studies in each partner country. The impacts of climate change on trade patterns will be evaluated to assess the carbon- and water footprints and virtual water profiles of key traded commodities of these countries. At the end, the project team will focus on policy relevance and assessment of adaptation strategies and identify interventions that will be needed, at which point in the system, and from which sector (or actor) is of interest.

The outcomes of CREATE will be used to increase awareness of the risks that climate change poses to the agro-food trade and the broader economy at large. They can contribute to efforts by the governments (macro-scale), the communities (meso-scale), as well as relevant agricultural producers (micro scale) in the case study countries, by providing essential information for promoting actions towards mitigating the negative consequences of climate change on agro-food trade.

Morocco is a country with extremely arid areas and a complex topography. The majority of climate change related studies predict increases in temperature and generalised decreases in precipitation, however the outputs of these studies are limited in that the resolution of the climate models used is relatively low and therefore often does not pick up variation over areas of complex topography (in which much of the population live). This study therefore helps generate a higher resolution, bias corrected climate dataset. It is also important that trends in precipitation, and more importantly drought, are better understood as Morocco is highly vulnerable to water scarcity. This study therefore focuses on the impacts of climate change on extreme low precipitation, which is directly linked to water shortages and drought events. The study adds valuable new insights to climate change impact analysis in Morocco and is the first to use downscaled climate data to focus on sector wise impact. The data outputs will be located at a number of universities and government ministries in Morocco.

The Sous-Massa basin is located in central Morocco. It represents an arid area that will likely face water resources challenges into the coming decades due to the influence of climate change and socioeconomic development. Indeed, increases in temperatures and decreases in precipitation are anticipated in the Sous-Massa region, alongside more extreme intense precipitation and drought events. It is therefore important the the impacts of climate change on water availability are better constrained to target resilience measures and better prepare for potential future water scarcity.

With the results of this project, IMWI will be able to apply the Water Accounting Plus framework to the Sous-Massa basin, helping to better constrain the likely impacts of climate change on future water availability. This project therefore helps support the targeting and prioritisation of climate resilient interventions which can be taken by the government and other members of the water sector in this area of Morocco.

The detection of on-site farm reservoirs and ponds in large areas is a complex task that can be addressed through the combination of visual inspection of orthophotos and the application of automatic pixel classification algorithms.

This analysis applied a general workflow to detect and quantify the area and density of on-farm reservoirs and water bodies in three representative Mediterranean irrigated oases in Sicily-Italy, Northern of Morocco, and Israel. For each area of analysis, the most recent orthophotos available were collected from Google Earth, and the ilastik algorithms were implemented for the pixel classification (Random Forest -RF-) and semantic-segmentation. The RF classifier, which is previously applied to a set of filtered imagery and iteratively trained, provides probability maps of different classes that are finally used for quantitative analysis, or the retrieval of a segmentation-categorical (water vs non-water) maps.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is considered the most water-scarce region of the world. Disputes over water lead to tension within communities, and unreliable water services are prompting people to migrate in search of better opportunities. Water investments absorb large amounts of public funds, which could often be used more efficiently elsewhere. As the region’s population continues to grow, per capita water availability is set to fall by 50 percent by 2050, and, if climate change affects weather and precipitation patterns as predicted, the MENA region may see more frequent and severe droughts and floods

Map of yearly average precipitation in the MENA region (mm).

The need for alternative and improved water management options is therefore urgently needed, but a clear overview on what the main focus should be is lacking. A broad range of options exists which can be grouped by different approaches such as reducing the demand, increasing the supply, transfer between different sectors, transfer within different sectors, increase storage etc. An important aspect for the MENA region includes desalination.

Map of aridity in the MENA region.

To explore different options the World Bank initiated an initiative to generate an improved understanding of water issues in the region and overview of available options under different scenarios of water supply and demand management with special focus on desalination, taking into account the energy nexus and environmental concerns. As part of this initiative, FutureWater will carry out an assessment of water stress in the MENA region, including associated marginal cost of water supply to meet the water supply need. Conducting consultation workshops and meetings will be organized with relevant parties in the region (governmental, universities, civil society groups).

Appropriate planning in water resources, and more specifically in irrigation, is becoming increasingly important given the challenges of already-stressed water resources, climate change, growing population, increase in prosperity, potential food shortages, etc. However, policy makers and planners are often constrained, in this context of increasing complexity, by insufficient knowledge and tools to evaluate the consequences of alternative interventions and thus make the appropriate decisions. Furthermore, important misconceptions often underlie strategies proposed to address these problems.

To illuminate these issues, a scenario-based policy oriented demonstration model is presented here. The term model here refers more to a demonstration tool rather than a software package. The model as developed includes physical processes, but at a lumped and parametric level. Most importantly, the model will focus on scenario and intervention analysis, so that policy makers can better understand and evaluate the impact and interactions of a certain change or decision they plan to make, and the changing environment in which they are operating.

The model is developed in WEAP and is based on water scarce basin. A copy of the WEAP model can be obtained through SEI.

Green Water Credits can be seen as an investment mechanism for upstream farmers to practice soil and water management activities that generate benefits for downstream water users, which are currently unrecognized and unrewarded. This initiative is driven by economic, environmental and social benefits. The implementation of GWC has the potential of enhancing overall water management by reducing damaging runoff, increase groundwater recharge, simulate a more reliable flow regime, and reduce harmful sedimentation of reservoirs.

Green Water Credits: the concept.

The largest issues in the Sebou basin in Morocco are floods, droughts, erosion and the siltation of reservoirs, food and water security, and public health. These issues offer unique opportunities for the implementation of green water management measures. The implementation of these management options can enhance the water availability and reduce problems related to flooding and erosion. However, farmers need incentives to sustainably implement these measures. At the same time, downstream users may be unaware of the benefits they might gain through farmer implementation of these measures in upstream areas. This Proof-of-Concept phase is meant to demonstrate and quantify the potential benefits to all stakeholders in the basin.

The GWC methodology was applied to the Sebou river basin. Data was gathered, prepared and verified to set up a bio-physical assessment tool (SWAT) to quantify the upstream-downstream interaction in the basin. Three green water management scenarios were analyzed, in order to evaluate the effect of these scenarios on soil evaporation, crop transpiration, surface runoff, sediment inflow into the reservoirs, and groundwater recharge. The GWC scenarios analysed were:

  • Stone lines (cordons de pierres)
  • Bench terraces (banquette)
  • Contour tillage
Green Water Credits measure: stone lines

For the scenarios analyzed, Contour tillage showed the largest decrease in sediment inflow into the reservoirs. The other two scenarios also showed decreases in sediment inflow. Another positive effect is the decrease in surface runoff, and increase in groundwater recharge. The increase in groundwater recharge is especially large for the areas where rainfed broad beans are grown. The increase in groundwater recharge leads to more water inflow into the reservoirs. This increases the water availability for farmers who use the water extensively for irrigation purposes.

By using the SWAT model in combination with WEAP the potential benefits can be assessed. The overall purpose of the WEAP model is to provide a first estimate of the potential impact of the green water management measures. The most effective measures, in terms of benefits only are implementation of bench terraces, followed by carrying out contour tillage, and then constructing stone lines. However, bench terraces are much more expensive than the other two measures, and contour tillage is the most preferable in terms of benefit-cost ratio.

Water shortage (unmet demand) for the future and the three green water management scenarios

El proyecto “Sustainable use of irrigation water in the Mediterranean Region” (SIRRIMED) es un proyecto europeo de cooperación del VII Programa Marco, enmarcado en la temática “Alimentación, Agricultura, Pesca y Biotecnologías”, que cuenta con un presupuesto superior a 4 millones de euros, y en el que participan quince socios de ocho países distintos: España, Italia, Francia, Inglaterra, Holanda, Marruecos, Líbano, Egipto. Se trata de un proyecto coordinado por el Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC).

El proyecto SIRRIMED aborda cuestiones relacionadas con la optimización del uso del agua de riego en el Mediterráneo. La originalidad de Sirrimed reside en su carácter integrador, tanto a nivel espacial, los estudios van de la escala de la finca agrícola hasta la escala de la Cuenca Hidrográfica, como a nivel de los campos científicos agronomía, hidrología, climatología, y tecnológicos, sensores, algoritmos de programación, modelización biofísica, sistemas de información integrando la teledetección.

El consorcio lo forman empresas, centros de investigación, universidades y asociaciones, estrechamente relacionadas con la gestión del agua en la agricultura: La Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena (UPCT), Canale Emiliano-Romagnolo (CER), Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC), Center for Research and Technology – Thessaly (CERETETH), Universidad de Córdoba (UCO), Asociación Fabricantes de Riego Españoles (AFRE), Euromediterranean irrigators community (EIC), Institute for Environmental Studie.- Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (IVM-VU), Litani River Authority (LRA), Debbane S.L. (DEB), Institut Agronomique et Véterinaire Hasssan II (IAV-CHA), Sapiama S.L (SAPIAMA), y National Research Center (NRC).

FutureWater participa dentro de los paquetes de trabajo que tienen como objetivo poner a la disposición de los usuarios finales, que pueden ser tanto agricultores como comunidades de regantes o confederaciones hidrográficas, indicadores de gestión, herramientas y modelos que permitan la optimización y la armonización de la gestión del agua de riego a diferentes niveles de toma de decisión. Debido al carácter multidisciplinario de los estudios, colabora con varios grupos de investigación de la UPCT y del CEBAS en diferentes áreas de conocimiento, entre las que destacan ingeniería agroforestal, producción vegetal y economía agraria.

Se han elegido varias cuencas piloto que son monitorizadas simultáneamente por equipos de medida de terreno y por datos de teledetección. De esta forma, se adquiere la información espaciotemporal necesaria para la evaluación de la evapotranspiración de los cultivos y de la productividad del agua en estas cuencas. A partir de modelos de cultivos asociados a modelos hidrológicos alimentados con datos agro-meteorológicos y de teledetección, se llevan a cabo simulaciones del funcionamiento de los regadíos, en función de diferentes escenarios de cultivos, de disponibilidad de agua, de sistema de riego y de modo de gestión del regadío.

Para más información visita la web del proyecto