“Cairo Water Week” is an international event focusing on water-related issues and the ways to overcome them, held by the Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation. The fourth session held in Cairo from 20th to 24th October 2019, with an overarching theme of “Responding to water scarcity”, covered the following five topics:
This event gathered leaders, experts and decision-makers representing more than 100 countries and allowed them to share knowledge, experiences, technologies and ideas to combat water scarcity problems in the world, and especially in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Water Youth Network participated in Cairo Water Week 2019, and presented at the Technical Session led by our partner, the Nile Basin Capacity Building Network (NBCBN), with whom we had organized a Workshop in June 2019 about the role of youth in water diplomacy, especially in transboundary water cooperation, gathering more than 20 young people coming from 14 different countries.
The technical session titled “Networks for capacity development and knowledge sharing: tools to cope with water scarcity” aimed at showcasing the works of different knowledge networks who engage in knowledge production and solving water issues, not just within but even beyond the Nile Basin region. Other participants of the session were e.g. IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education, SciDev.Net and CapNet-UNDP.
The session shed light on certain key ongoing projects that look at water scarcity on a transboundary scale with a specific emphasis on including all stakeholders’ involvement in the decision making process. As the Water Youth Network, we discussed who we are and what our mission is within the water sector. Additionally, we presented the findings from the Cairo Workshop on Water Diplomacy coupled with some personal reflections on the process and activities that were conducted.
The session allowed us to come up with new ideas for the year to come, and bring out dialogue with potential future WYN partners. For instance, the idea of organizing youth camps on the Nile Basin was mentioned and could lead to a concrete action in 2020, in cooperation with the Nile Journeys platform. These youth camps would be a great opportunity for young people living in different Nile basin countries to gather, create links, share stories and relationships about the river and create new common narratives and visions for the future, in order to better manage and handle water-related issues in this area.
Personally, this was my first experience in a “huge” seminar like this. I was really impressed at first. It was truly inspiring to meet people working on similar issues and having shared goals to improve water issues, however, they address these issues in such different and complementary angles: through technology and innovation, political discussions, knowledge sharing and capacity building reinforcement, patterns of behaviors study…
It was quite special for me to participate at this event in Cairo, since my interest in water-related issues, especially the relationships between water and people, was born in Egypt, in 2016-2017, where I lived for one year. At the time, and till date, I have been intrigued by the river Nile, stories about it, and the place that river holds in peoples’ lives and their heats. . Thus, it meant a lot to me to come back to Egypt, attend the wonderful presentations about the river Nile, understand how to better take care of it and its people, and, of course, to have the opportunity to be one of the Youth voices at this event.
Indeed, the more I have been involved into the Water Youth Network, the more I have been meeting young people who are doing great initiatives and developing innovative projects throughout the world, the more I am convinced that young people are definitely one of the most important keys to implement transformative changes right now, to pave the way towards alternatives futures.
It was really a nice experience to witness such a big event within Egypt and understand what the agenda is for the current government related to water. Unfortunately, I noticed that youth engagement at the event was quite limited, both in terms of both presenters and attendees.
However, there was an emerging focus on interdisciplinary research, with the attention and call for the integration of different scientific disciplines.It was also very interesting to see that most water issues being discussed in the conference were related to water scarcity and not on floods related issues..
Discussing and presenting the work of the Water Youth Network was received with great enthusiasm from several participants in the conference, as they appreciated the proactive role youth play in contributing to the water agenda and bring fresh perspectives, ideas and views when it comes to discussing water issues.