The Food-Energy-Water Security Nexus: Policy Dialogue Workshop

Cooking relish on improved cookstove. Source: Mitchell Maher (IFPRI), 2016

Cooking relish on improved cookstove. Source: Mitchell Maher (IFPRI), 2016

Food security, energy and water constitute basic needs of households. Commonly, interventions of policymakers or other stakeholders which target the necessities of households only focus on one of these needs. However, the supply of food, energy and water depends on a complex and interrelating system of natural resources. The Food Security-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus project has been exploring efficient policy solutions across several countries, which account for the competing demand of sectors on natural resources. In Malawi, this work is a collaboration of Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Hohenheim, Germany and the International Food Policy Research Institute. Research activities emphasized the promotion of improved cookstoves to reduce deforestation in Malawi.

Now coming to a close, the Nexus project held a final dissemination and policy discussion event on Tuesday September 6 at the Sunbird Capital Hotel, opened by the Hon. Bright Msaka, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining. The agenda and project description can be found here. With a number of distinguished presenters and discussants, a number of key findings and policy recommendations emerged, which are summarized below. Also, a video summarizing the challenges related to the food-energy-water nexus in Malawi was developed by IFPRI and can be viewed here.

Key findings & policy recommendations:

  • Research showed that promotion of improved cookstoves (ICS) will require participation of private entrepreneurs. There is large demand for ICS and a high price is not one of the constraints for its adoption so the adoption of ICS can be increased by increasing their availability.
  • If priced higher, attracts private entrepreneurs in the production and transportation of ICS. Training of entrepreneurs through technical colleges will be required to capitalize on this. Though promotion of ICS is still necessary so that potential users know their benefits.
  • However, national modeling results show that demand side interventions, such as the promotion of ICS are not sufficient to cover Malawi’s biomass needs in the future. Promotion of agroforestry along with ICS can help to close this biomass gap.
  • In terms of incentives to promote agroforestry, rural households preferred a conditional input subsidy over a cash payment. Conditioning FISP on such beneficial practices can increase the long-run benefits for farmers and soils. Results show that positive effects on soil health from agroforestry adoption can mitigate the negative effects of scaling down the FISP. Thus agroforestry will simultaneously help to achieve food security & energy security.