On the side-lines of the second edition of the Cairo Water Week (CWW) currently held in Cairo, the Regional Interdependence Dialogue Programme of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), in cooperation with the Arab League, held a workshop entitled “Promoting Urban Nexus in the Middle East and North Africa”.
The workshop aims at discussing the concept of urban interdependence and the mechanisms of achieving it, highlighting the pivotal role of municipalities in achieving the nexus of water and energy sectors, and finding solutions for sustainable urban development.
Participants in the workshop presented successful experiences for achieving urban nexus in Arab municipalities in Jordan, Morocco, and Lebanon, in addition to presenting examples of sustainability projects in Egypt.
Head of Research at the Middle East Desalination Research Centre (MEDRC), Jauad El Kharraz explains that the concept of urban nexus is to coordinate water, energy, and food sectors to achieve the resources’ security in tandem.
It also focuses on not using one of these resources at the expense of another, which requires coordination between decision-makers in the three sectors to coordinate sustainable policies to serve national and international strategies.
“In order for urban nexus to achieve tangible and rapid results, we must focus on implementing it at the local, small, and medium-sized cities, by calling on workers in each of the three sectors to discuss the policies and challenges of each sector, and then coordinate the implementation of the concept of nexus,” El Kharraz told Daily News Egypt.
He stresses the importance of involving the private sector in urban nexus projects, in addition to inviting scientists and researchers in these sectors to present the latest scientific experiments and technologies such as solar energy and water desalination.
El-Kharraz believes that the current application in the Arab region of the concept of urban nexus is highly successful, pointing out the importance of coordination among the different municipalities in the Arab region to benefit from the experiences of others.
Deputy governor of Giza in Egypt Lamia Abdel Kader, says the governorate is expanding solar projects to ease pressure on the electricity grid by setting up solar power plants to take advantage of Giza’s high solar brightness.
Abdel Kader told DNE that the governorate is working to educate citizens about projects implemented to rationalise consumption in water and energy. She pointed to the establishment of greywater treatment plants for use in the “landscape” such as irrigation of gardens and tree belts.
The Deputy Governor of Giza pointed out that the state is currently establishing three cities in the concept of sustainable city, which works to achieve nexus between the components of the urban system. These cities are the New Administrative Capital, the New City of El Alamein, and East Port Said.
Regarding the implementation of urban nexus in existing cities, she says it will take a long time and will face many difficulties.
“Giza is currently trying to reach an agreement with one of the companies involved in recycling solid waste to establish a factory serving the area of Burqash in Al-Qanater. This plant will recycle solid waste in the region and neighbouring areas such as Kerdasa and Oseem, in addition to generating thermal and electricity power from this plant, “explains Abdelkader.
Director of the National Centre for Energy Research at the Royal Scientific Society in Jordan Mohiuddin Tawalbeh, said during the workshop that to achieve the urban nexus project in the Jordanian city of Karak, the municipalities in which the project was implemented were selected based on certain criteria depending on the desire to achieve urban nexus and the cooperation with the organisers of the project.
Tawalbeh referred to one of the successful examples of the project’s implementation in Jordan, the wastewater treatment plant in Khirbet Al-Samra municipality, which produces 90% of its energy needs, and uses treated water for agricultural purposes.
He also pointed to the successful re-use of ablution water from mosques, which he says is water that is almost completely clean and does not require much effort in purification. Many municipalities in Karak also succeeded in cooperating with the private sector to establish solar power plants.
Regarding the Lebanese experience, Mayor of Jdeidet Chouf municipality Hesham Al-Fatayri, said that the municipality started implementing the urban nexus project with the support of GIZ and the partnership of civil society.
The first municipality project was to develop a plan to reduce carbon emissions from the municipality by 40%.
One of the most important challenges faced by the Jdeidet Chouf municipality is the legislative challenge as decisions are taken and legislation is enacted at the national rather than the local level.
Workshop participants concluded that the private sector should be involved in the implementation of urban nexus projects to benefit from achieving profits while maintaining the sustainability of resources. They also highlighted the importance of coordination among the operators of the three sectors, and the increase of economic tools such as grants and financing to prevent unfair policies on water. In addition, the use of modern technology regarding water treatment and waste recycling.