Splash & Ripple: an innovative funding model for youth-lead projects on water and sanitation

 By: Bart Devos, World Youth Parliament for Water.

Over the last few years I have had the pleasure to work with many young people in the water sector. It is hard to ignore the considerable progress that different active youth networks and youth organizations have achieved in promoting and implementing youth participation in the sector, at almost all levels. At local level, more and more youth organizations are coming up with awareness raising campaigns on water, or on broader water-related issues such as sustainable development and environmental protection. At international level, thanks to the advocacy of Water Youth Network, World Youth Parliament for Water, and others, we see that a youth voice is increasingly being heard at water conferences or in policy-making processes. Having obtained a seat at the table, the challenge we face now is to consolidate this position and to prove that through our participation we can bring ‘added value’, new views, fresh content.

 Talking does mater. But at the same time, the most powerful signal that we can give is acting for water! A-C-T ! And this is exactly where several obstacles do remain. Having witnessed an increasing support for youth participation to events and debates, I remain with the feeling that support for concrete youth projects on access to water and sanitation is still difficult to find. And hard to get. The causes are multiple: skepticism about the feasibility and effectiveness of youth-led and -designed projects, lack of experience, accountability issues, etc. However, the willingness and enthusiasm of youth to take action is huge, and undeniable. Young people worldwide stand ready to perform projects on access to water, sanitation, water management, etc.  Moreover, this is a perfect way for youth to take on responsibility and help improve living conditions of their community – to become architect of its present and future! And what about seeing this as an excellent condition for youth to gain experience, to develop their skills ?
In recognition of these challenges and opportunities, the Belgian NGO GoodPlanet (www.goodplanet.be) developed a new program, called Splash & Ripple. This is designed to enable motivated young people worldwide to take on responsibility and perform concrete projects on access to WASH, through financial and whereas appropriate technical support! Sponsors will be attracted, and as much youth-led projects as possible will be supported. The program was launched in Burkina Faso on the occasion of World Water Day 2014, through the inauguration of a pilot project financed by GoodPlanet Belgium. With the involvement of the community, and under leadership of Ilias Sawadogo – a youth leader from Burkina Faso, a water supply project was implemented in a provincial school in northern Burkina Faso with 2000 children. The water pump – destroyed for almost a decade – has been repaired, and a ‘Club of Students for Water’ has been established. This open Club consists of some of the school’s students: they will be trained to do basic maintenance of the infrastructure and they will organize educational activities on water use and hygiene. In this way, the sustainability of the project is ensured. Shortly after the inauguration, the project was highlighted at a national TV-chain, and got the grateful appreciation of Burkina Faso’s Minister for Youth and the Water Committee of the National Assembly.
Splash & Ripple had a successful launch, but a huge challenge is ahead: first of all, convincing sponsors to finance youth-led projects on access to water and sanitation. Secondly, we hope to reach young people without access to internet, give them information about the existence of this possibility, and accompany them when they want to submit a project proposal. Awaiting the launch of this program’s website, I invite everyone who is interested to contact us through bart.devos@hotmail.com, and b.devos@goodplanet.be
More info will follow!
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