Working Towards Water Security and Safe Sanitation at Africa Water Week 2018 (Libreville, Gabon)

Working Towards Water Security and Safe Sanitation at Africa Water Week 2018 (Libreville, Gabon)

Participant reflection of the 7th Africa Water Week

Water Youth Network attended the 7th Africa Water Week with the theme “Toward Achieving Water Security and Safely Managed Sanitation for Africa”, that was celebrated from 29th October to 2nd November, 2018 in Libreville, Gabon.

By: Younoussa Abbosouka (y.abbosouka@wateryouthnetwork.org)

 

The opening of the conference, which took place at the main auditorium of the Stade de l’Amitié Convention Centre, was filled to capacity with ministers, diplomats, technocrats, youth organizations and civil society representatives. Africa Water Week (AWW) is a biennial conference of African Water Ministers organized by the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW). This conference is the only platform on the continent where governments, donors, practitioners and civil society meet to discuss leading issues of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues. AWW seeks to build momentum on achieving the SDGs related to water security and sanitation by 2030 and the 2025 Africa Water Vision, and actualizing Africa’s Agenda 2063.

 

At the moment, 319 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to reliable safe water sources, 102 million people in Africa use surface water because they do not have access to running safe water and 695 million people live without proper sanitation. There is an urgent need to increase the advocacy capacities and the lobby of youth and youth organizations to be at the center of all the decision-making processes in order to solve this pernicious situation.

 

Technical sessions and side events

The rest of the week-long conference was made up of sessions and side events covering a range of topics and issues. WYN – in collaboration with Global Water Partnership, RECOJAC – attended all sessions where Global Water Partnership was the main convener. The objective of this was to help GWP in writing session reports. The session explored various programs and case studies that are using the human rights approach to water and sanitation. Approximately 60 people attended each event, which was a good indication of people’s interest in this important conference and helped to provide fruitful discussions.

 

It was evident from participants that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of youth implications and participation in the water sector, especially in Africa. This will form part of WYN’s on-going focus and work on the advocacy and capacity-building of youth and youth organizations so that they can have all the tools necessary to share. Later in the conference, a representative of the Africa EU Water Partnership at SIWI (in South Africa), Ziyanda Mpokame, stated that “its utmost capital to have intergeneration dialogue , and I am surprised to see only two youth-Younoussa and Ntsika in this room compared to the percentage of the youth on the continent.”

 

There was much discussion throughout the course of the week around financing, particularly looking at ways of supporting national governments to develop realistic projects to meet donors’ criteria and expectations, with much mention of buzzwords like “bankable projects”. “GWP is looking forward to the implementation of the African Investment and is committed to continue being a reliable partner for Africa providing the necessary technical and partnership support,” Roos Hamilton said. There was a lot of talk of the importance of youth participation in the decision-making and their involvement in water projects, but this lacked detailed information as to how it will be practically implemented and actioned at national/regional level. “Youth organization working on SDGs should continue to monitor and assess the ongoing process, and advocate for effective engagement and participation,” said Hon. Patrick Eyogo Edzang, the Minister of Water for Gabon.

 

Promoting youth engagement in water governance through youth-led research and innovation. Convener: UNESCO-IHP, International Science Council

Africa is one of UNESCO’s global priorities and youth is a priority group for this organization. UNESCO’s strategy for young people sees youth and young scientists not only as beneficiaries, but also as key actors in finding solutions to the problems they face. Young people, including those who are professionals in the water field, are often very active in their local communities. UNESCO’s International Hydrological Program (IHP) recognizes young and young water professionals as active actors as leaders, holders of knowledge (including indigenous knowledge) and innovators capable of providing solutions to challenges related to water, thus contributing to the achievement of SDG 6 and, consequently, supporting their participation in global water governance and related decision-making processes.

 

The preparatory committee for the organization of the 9th World Water Forum

Senegal will organize, on behalf of Africa, the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar in 2021 under the main theme of “Water Security for peace and Development”. The purpose of this session is to present the new orientations of the World Water Forum, present thematic priorities and organizational perspectives, consult African actors on current developments and their intention of particular mobilization. It is in the context of advocating and proposing solutions for increased implications of youth and youth organizations that Water Youth Network teamed up with Young Water Professionals of Senegal to develop ways ofexploiting and developing the expertise and skills of young people in the implementation and monitoring of SDG 6 in perspective of the 9th World Water Forum in 2021 in Senegal.

 

School visit, as part of our SDG 6 GFP

RECOJAC partnered with WYN, the Senegalese young water professionals and Nicole Webley (UNESCO-IHP representative) to visit a high school in Gabon, Libreville during the ongoing 7th Africa Water Week to share experience, empower students, and give them the means to start getting involved in the field of water at the secondary level through different associations that exist in their schools. We are young and it is our duty to ensure a safe water and environment for the future generations!!!

  

Youth Declaration

As one of the youth organizations that attended the 7th Africa Water Week in Gabon, Water Youth Network attended meetings and exchanges hosted during the week by the Senegalese Young Water Professionals with the aim to bring inputs in the preparation of the youth declaration which was presented during the closing ceremony by Fatima Sall. In that declaration, we young water professionals, recommended:

 

1. Strengthening water education
– Support youth-led awareness raising to increase the availability of quality human resources in the sector and youth accountability in sustainable water management.
– Continue strengthening the institutions responsible for training children and young people by encouraging the use of innovative teaching tools, such as artificial intelligence, indigenous knowledge, mentoring and citizen science, while emphasizing the importance of links between research, development and entrepreneurship in the water sector.
– Integrate education in water and the environment into teaching curricula.

 

2. Strengthening the participation and representation of youth and young water professionals in regional and global events
– Promote inter-generational dialogue between young people and decision-makers including youth representatives in the organization and implementation of major events such as the African Water Week and the upcoming World Water Forum to be held in Dakar in 2021.
– Strengthen the representation and participation of youth and young water professionals promoted by UN agencies and technical and financial partners such as UNESCO and the International Council of Science among other structures, while having a sensitivity to gender.

 

3. Increased support for the use of innovations and research products developed by young people in the governance of the water sector
– Identify and promote research conducted by young people taking into account water-related problems
– Encourage the application of innovations and research products in the governance of water resources by developing sustainable financing mechanisms

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