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The Water Security Nexus in North Africa: Catalyzing Regional Coordination Around Climate Change, Resilience and Migration

Status: Active
  • Lead and Funding Organizations

    Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) & The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)



    Partners include the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM-Bari), Cewas Middle-East, Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD), World Bank, and the MedYWat network.



    Natural disasters such as droughts, floods and torrential rains are natural weather events that communities have faced and dealt with for generations. However, over the past two decades, climate change/variability has accelerated the frequency, intensity and severity at which these natural disasters occur. Adaptation to climate change impacts is emerging as a key development agenda across the globe. 


    Within this context, Climate change also adds a new complexity to the areas of human mobility and settlement by exacerbating environmental degradation, and thereby water and food security. Evidence is still scarce on the relative impacts and inter-relations between water availability, access, and use, changing climate patterns, agricultural transformation, migration, and displacement. However, environmental shocks and long-term trends are shown to be a trigger for, and sometimes to exacerbate existing human movements, impacting the nature of decision making and thus, the rural communities and the rural-to-urban migration. 


    Program Objective

    The water security nexus study seeks to better understand security in an interdependent world, building a stronger understanding of cross-sector security issues (food, water, environmental, migratory, demographic, etc.) in North African countries and their impacts on human mobility. It will help researchers to better understand, and policy makers to better address ways of mitigating the multiplier effects of possible climate shocks, and to put in place more robust policy measures to tackle long-term trends, in particular regarding youth and rural development.


    The main targeted outcomes from this initiative can be categorized as Understanding, Capacity & Collaboration and Engagement.


    • Understanding:  Organizations, governments and citizens in North Africa have greater access to data on how water scarcity and drought affect security and stability on which to base policy decisions. 
    • Capacity & Collaboration: Organizations, governments and citizens in North Africa have greater capacity to improve awareness, understanding and targeting of policies and programs to address water scarcity and drought management challenges that have and impact on rural development and human movement.
    • Engagement: Youth, experts & decision makers in North Africa engage to tackle drought management and water scarcity issues through evidence-based solutions and youth-led entrepreneurship.


    Anticipated results


    • Assessing Future Drought Characteristics under a Changing Climate for Morocco - Completed: As part of the overall program, new data sets have been developed in consultation with key government agencies. Data from 10 in total Global Climate Models (GCMs) and Regional Climate Models (RCMs) were extracted for from the Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) ( for both the past and future against three Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios (historical, RCP 4.5, 8.5). The data were checked against available values for long-term precipitation and average min/max temperatures (tmin/ tmax for the historical period data (using ECMWF ERA5 data because of the spatial coverage) and then bias corrected using quantile mapping methodology. From these base data sets, new national-level climate change data and maps were generated covering various indicators that were identified by key stakeholders as important to their operations. 

    Download: Full Report | Dataset | Recording and materials of the stakeholders’ workshop


    • Water Accounting + for Souss Messa Bassin (Morocco) - Ongoing: This activity will bring a detailed focus using a framework known as Water Accounting+ to one river basin that is under great water stress - the Souss Messa. Climate change early analysis highlights that this strain, particularly from droughts will increase in this river basin going forward. Water Accounting + will be established for river basin to capture the current water use and resource complexities at a management-scale spatial resolution and then climate change scenarios will be run using the rainfall and evaporation data for the dry, avg and wet years. Water Accounting (WA) is an approach developed to bridge the world of natural water resources management and productive water use providing comprehensive, consistent and comparable information related to water for policy- and decision-making to promote sustainable and equitable use of water resources with transparent water governance. This activity will bring in depth assessment of the implications of climate change to water resources and use at a river basin scale, and will support directly the work of ABH Souss Messa and OMRVA as they manage the complex challenges of increased water stress.
    • Regional Learning on the Water Security Nexus (Water-Migration-Climate Change): Building a stronger evidence base on water, migration and climate change. This includes a regional-level literature review on water, migration and climate change which will help draw an analytical framework and identify key indicators, actors and processes underway with regards to the water, environment and human security nexus in the respective countries (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), and relationships between water security-migration-and climate change. These reviews will focus on academic, grey and policy literatures. The review studies will provide the basis for further analytic work at country levels, including case study work in regions of each country to ascertain in more detail the water, climate and migration interrelationships, and their significance with respect to other social, political and economic/cultural factors. In undertaking the further analytical studies, emphasis will be placed on adaptation options to reduce vulnerability and build resilience in key sectors such as water and agriculture/food and on the youth and gender dimensions of policy choices.


    Capacity & Collaboration


    • Catalyzing Regional Cooperation and Learning on Water-Migration-Climate Change:  Together with key public sector institutions involved in operational work, the CMI’s thematic networks and partners will be mobilized to engage in ongoing peer-learning and knowledge-sharing throughout the project, disseminating knowledge on water and food security, migration and climate change with a focus on the drought-management assessment. This regional peer-exchange dialogue will take the form of capacity-building through a series of workshops and will gather key stakeholders (IFIs, policy makers, academia, refugee and host municipality networks, NGOs and civil society) with a clear focus on strengthening youth networks to enhance their participation and action in climate impact on migration and security. The lessons learned will be captured and disseminated through the publication of an initial overview report to initiate dialogue and discussions to be refined over the next two years and with specific focus on “Understanding” activities, followed by a final report that will be published and disseminated at the end of the project. 
    • CMI World Water Day Youth Regional workshop: This CMI’s annual event aims to stimulate inter-generational learning between young Mediterranean water practitioners and senior experts. It involves and supports the CMI-managed Mediterranean Youth for Water network (MedYWat) and promotes and enhances collaboration with key regional water stakeholders. The workshop also serves as an annual intersection of stakeholders where the analytical work produced by both MedYWat and CMI (including the Water Security Nexus project) is shared and disseminated through different channels to key partners, policy makers and regional stakeholders. 

    CMI’s WWD youth workshop 2020 focusing on Water and Climate Change – 23 March 2020, virtual event

    CMI’s WWD youth workshop 2021 focusing on Valuing Water – 22 March 2021, virtual event 



    • Building Green Water Youth Entrepreneurship through Regional dialogue: In collaboration with CEWAS Middle East, a water and sanitation business and start-up specific incubator and the CMI-managed Mediterranean Youth Network, CMI focuses this activity on stimulating green water youth entrepreneurship in the region. This effort will aim to develop youth’ water and sanitation start-ups. In order to support a sustainable support of selected high-potential start-ups, a cycle of Hackathon – for idea generation/motivation, Bootcamp – for intense training of idea and business development, Start-up Programme participation – for coaching, matchmaking, networking to start-ups from the idea to a prototyping/piloting and implementation stage is proposed. Promising solutions developed and refined during the bootcamp will participate in the CEWAS Middle East’s green entrepreneurship start-up program in the region. The start-up program will include face-to-face training modules and at least 12 months of coaching.