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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Charles Hugentobler

A novel approach to assessing resource security in the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus from the perspective of sub-Saharan African countries

The provision of modern water, energy, and food services represents a critical foundation for poverty eradication and sustainable development, and is central to the livelihoods of people living in developing countries. Effective measures to rapidly extend and bolster access to water, energy, and food resources need to be established on a profound understanding for the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus and its intrinsic interdependencies, coupled with a robust information bank on resource security in the nexus. Metrics that are instrumental to conducting comparative analyses and monitoring progress towards targets therefore serve as essential support tools. The literature on current metrics in human development and resource security are reviewed, and the sufficiency and pertinence of existing instruments for assessing resource deprivation are deliberated. Based on these findings, a novel composite index is introduced to evaluate resource deprivation in the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus. The associated methodology and the initial results based on two sub-Saharan African countries of dissimilar deprivation structures (Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo) are discussed. In contrast to alternative indices that do not specifically focus on aspects critical to the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus, or merely assess access to resources or extent of development related to resource consumption, the Nexus Deprivation Index (NDI) applies the nexus approach to assessing resource deprivation and deprivation to basic water, energy, and food services at the household level. More importantly, it accounts for both the incidence and intensity of resource deprivation in water, energy, and food, and sheds new light on how different facets of the nexus interact with one another, and that relates to the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus as a whole.