Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus

Egypt faces extreme water scarcity. Estimates have shown that temperatures will increase by up to 5 ̊C and rainfall will decrease by 20% by the end of this century. 85% of the total consumption in Egypt comes from irrigation for agriculture. In this arid country, saline water is far more abundant than freshwater, but this conversion process requires energy. Water and energy have always been related since energy is needed to treat and transport water and water is needed to grow crops. This is where the idea for combining the three challenges in the hopes of producing a sustainable solution came to fruition.

The Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus is at the core of CARES’ research activities. The research includes examining the interconnections between water, energy, and food with the goal of ensuring the security of all three for an ever-growing population in the Arab world. To advance the goal of integrated planning, policy, and management, it is important to increase awareness about how these three systems intersect and why greater coordination is necessary, thus the WEF Nexus is in operation through partnerships between local and international entities, and through our WEF Nexus Lab.

WEF Nexus Lab: CARES has established a WEF Nexus lab that makes use of the sunny weather in Egypt to generate electricity to power a modern hybrid desalination unit for salt and brackish water. Through Reverse Osmosis membrane technology, the desalinated water is used by aquaponics for modern drip irrigation in agriculture. The brine (byproduct) is utilized to produce fish. The idea is to use the sun to produce energy, the energy to prepare the water for agriculture, and the water to flow through irrigation systems that use the water as efficiently as possible for food production. This system will be zero-waste and have zero environmental impacts while still being economically profitable.



  1. RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  2. German University of Technology, Oman
  3. International Desalination and Water Treatment, Germany, Oman and Egypt
  4. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia
  5. Sydney Technical University, Australia
  6. Connecticut University, USA

TriNex Project

TriNex was a 3-year EU Tempus Programme-funded project that commenced in December 2013 and was completed in March 2017. The general objective of the project was to make the Water, Energy, and Food Nexus (WEF Nexus) the next research, education, and innovation frontier for sustainable resource management and development within the framework of a green economy in Egypt. A strong increase of the number and quality of researchers was mandatory, and therefore one of the leverages to be pulled was the university capacity in promoting program and research about the WEF Nexus with effective links with labor market requirements. TriNex aimed at improving the role of universities in the Egyptian society by developing a national strategy and a university platform to promote the WEF-Nexus and the related synergy between Research, Education and Innovation (Knowledge-Triangle).

There were five specific objectives of the project:

1. Developing a National Strategy & Platform for the WEF-Nexus.

2. Establishing WEF-Nexus Coordination Bodies in the partner universities

3. Creating a qualified generation of WEF academicians.

4. Developing and pilot delivering of an EU-EG PhD Summer School to strengthen cooperation between junior researchers.

5. Developing a Web-Based Knowledge-Sharing System to facilitate academic cooperation.


Working with Cairo University, Alexandria University, Heliopolis University, Politecnico di Milano, Technical University of Graz, Montpellier SupAgro in France and RWTH Aachen University in Germany, the TriNex Project succeeded in creating:

  • A National Strategy for the WEF-Nexus identified and discussed with stakeholders.
  • A WEF-Nexus Coordination Body established within each partner university.
  • Qualified Egyptian academics trained to face WEF-Nexus multidisciplinary projects.
  • A Euro–Egyptian PhD Program on the WEF-Nexus defined with a pilot implementation and an international conference.
  • A web-based Knowledge Sharing System online where training materials are shared.

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