The Power of the Youth: WE4F partners with Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)

15 students from Europe, East Africa, and West Africa will support the dissemination of water-energy-food nexus innovations

Applied research and evidence is needed to broadcast and scale up sustainable and affordable water-energy-food (WEF) nexus innovations for smallholder farmers and other end-users in the global food systems. This is especially true in the water-scarce regions of sub-Saharan Africa, where mature and scientificallyproven water- and energy-efficient solutions are necessary for ensuring food security and climate resilience, as well as protecting ecosystem biodiversity.

Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e.V., a German research centre, has long-standing, international experience in providing solutions for economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable agriculture. and the joint partnership with WE4F will promote practical, knowledge-based financing and business models for WEF nexus innovations. Together, WE4F and ZALF will focus on the ability of solar-based solutions in East and West Africa to transform agriculture systems and address global challenges such as climate change, food security, biodiversity, and resource scarcity.

WE4F and ZALF: How everything began

The partnership between WE4F and ZALF started in December 2021 with the need to close research gaps and gain evidence-based scientific, neutral, and unbiased knowledge to strengthen the potential dissemination of innovations in the WEF nexus. At the beginning of the collaboration, it will be important to identify ways to mitigate the main barriers.  In particular, the financial ability of farmers, service providers, and local producers to access water- and energy-efficient equipment for sustainable food production and processing. Going forward, the partnership will contribute to developing business models for SMEs and small-scale producers of these innovations; and to policy discussions, decision-making, and programming to improve the enabling environment within the WEF nexus. Furthermore, the partnership will foster scientific collaboration between the Germany and East and West Africa, in the field of applied research.

On-the-ground research by 15 students will help scale innovative solutions

A major component of this partnership is that it will bring together master’s students and scientists from regional and international research institutions to conduct collaborative, on-the-ground research to provide a robust, evidence-based assessment of how to scale innovative, financially accessible energy- and water-efficient solutions at the farm and food value chain levels.

Furthermore, the topics examined in the student’s master theses will benefit from publication in international journals, that will circulate the information and build a sound basis for the creation of cross-sectoral WEF policy and guidelines. By feeding into international discussions through the planned, international peer-reviewed publications and data as well as scientific knowledge, the impact and visibility of the program will be increased , benefitting all WE4F Hub regions and beyond.

Some more information about ZALF:

The Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e.V. is a large national research facility with 170 scientists and a total of 335 employees. ZALF has extensive experience in international projects and scientific networks in the field of land, water, and bioenergy management as well as very generally sustainable agricultural development. The research focuses on integrated analysis of agricultural landscapes for sustainable management of land and water, conservation of natural and cultural resources, and sustainable development of rural areas in widespread regions in the world, particularly Sub Saharan-Africa. More precisely, the ZALF working group SusLAND analyses land/use-based food and nutrition-sensitive agricultural systems. Activities are focused on developing inter- and transdisciplinary research models to evaluate policy impacts and changes of land use systems on environmental, social, and economic sustainability and to support decision making of land use management, governance and policy.

To learn more about Zalf, visit the webiste here or get into contact with them via .

About the author: 

Johannes Muntau, Technical Adivsor, GIZ Secretariat Unit

Johannes Muntau is a Technical Advisor for WE4F GIZ Secretariat Unit in Bonn and wrote this article together with Clara Mayer, currently interning at the Secretariat Unit . Johannes focuses on global capacity development and accompanying research. He has an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the Technical University of Darmstadt. where he focused on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), and development cooperation.

For more information on this partnership with ZALF, get into contact with Johannes Muntau via