Water Resource Management and Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystem Nexus (WEFE)

On Monday, 23rd November 2020, experts from the countries of Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Germany were invited to participate in the online public lecture on the topics of “Water Resource Management” and “Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystem Nexus (WEFE)” organized by DAAD Egypt.

The event offered an overview on the topic of water with in-depth information about current projects and studies on its related areas. Starting from a presentation on the technique of water desalination and wastewater treatment, the lecture included other presentations on renewable energies in the Arab region, on the specific method of monitoring and forecasting drought through earth observation data and on the project Sigma Nexus in the Mediterranean Area.

Ms. Isabell Mering, director of the DAAD Regional Office Cairo, opened the conference by explaining the relevance of the topic on the agenda for the MENA region. Keeping the existing water scarcity problem in mind, the first speaker, Prof. Ahmed Saad Gomaa from the Egypt-Japan University of Science & Technology, offered a thorough explanation of the desalination process as a possible solution available to face water scarcity. His presentation titled “Smart and Patterned Membranes for Water Desalination and Wastewater Treatment” outlined the problems that Arab countries like Egypt are confronted with in terms of water resource management. He then moved to analyse the desalination process with a precise description of the tools and stages involved such as the use of different types of membranes. Despite its high costs, Prof. Dr. Ahmed Saad Gomaa highlighted the benefits deriving from further investment in studying and implementing this method.

The conference equally touched the topic of renewable energies trough the presentation “MENA renewables status” by Prof. Dr. Ahmed Salaymeh from the University of Jordan. Particularly, Dr. Salaymeh brought to light the fact that although the Arab region enjoys abundant renewable energy resources, the current share of renewable energy in power installed capacity remains small. Despite recent efforts from some governments in developing plans especially in the field of solar energy, major challenges remain at the political, financial and institutional levels.

Furthermore, Dr. Moncef Bouaziz from l’Ecole Nationale d’Ingenieurs de Sfax in Tunisia explained the potential of earth observation data in predicting drought during his presentation named “Drought monitoring and forecasting based on earth observation data”. While outlining the way in which earth observation data offer precious information to predict the occurrence of drought, Dr. Bouaziz emphasized the necessity to find innovative ways to adapt to natural phenomena such as drought and the need for humans to develop a behaviour with nature based on respect, attention and preservation.

Finally, Dr. Maria Vrachioli from the Technical University of Munich drove the attention to the topic of water from a socio-economic perspective. Specifically, she presented the WEFE-Nexus approach for water scarcity and the Sigma Nexus project based in Egypt and Greece. Dr. Vrachioli could therefore share with the audience valuable options for water resource management taking into account the linkage between water, food, energy and ecosystem.

Overall, the lecture offered a comprehensive analysis of the topic of water under a variety of perspectives. Remarkably, it showed the necessity to take into consideration the relation between all fields of studies, to exchange knowledge and, most importantly, to develop a respectful behaviour towards nature to decrease the risk of environmental crises; especially due to climate change.

Author: Veronica Merlo

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