Water Resources Management : Africa’s Youth Seek Greater Voice

A report on involving youth in water-impacting issues was presented to over 80 youth on February 23, 2023. Through an online event hosted by the Global Water Partnership for Central Africa, the African Youth Parliament for Water, AYPW and RECOJAC.

Africa’s population is made up of 50 per cent of youth in most countries; with these young people showing great interest in global water issues. According to experts, if Africa’s youths are encouraged, the continent would be able to release its full potential to advance a significant portion of the global water cause. This can be done by putting in place official youth policies in each African country, the experts stress. 

Revitalising Youth Policies  
It is for this reason that an online event, “Revitalising the 55 African Youth Policies” held on February 23, 2023. The Central African sub-regional session was coordinated from the Yaounde, Cameroon headquarters of the Global Water Partnership for Central Africa, GWPCA. It was hosted by the African Youth Parliament for Water, AYPW. And co-hosted by the Network of Central African Youth Organisation for Water and Climate, RECOJAC. It was moderated by Dr Michele Nken Okala, RECOJAC Regional Coordinator.

Defining Youth Priorities, Inputs
“The event held simultaneously in five regions of Africa. For the Central African sub-region, it was about bringing together youth organisations from different sectors to discuss their priority activities, the implementation of youth policies in their countries, and their inputs. The messages from each sub-region will be compiled and presented next month at the UN Water Conference in New York,” Dr Nken said. 

Youth Propose
“Between 80 and 100 youths from all over Africa participated in the online discussion. To us, the event was a huge success. The statement issued at the end highlights the proposals of Central African countries and other sub-regions. These proposals will be presented at the African Youth Parliament on Water,” she explained.  

Mapping Youth Policy Progress 
In collaboration with leaders of 24 African national youth parliaments, organizers beginning in 2022 produced a report (mapping) of the state of progress per country of policies related to the three objectives of the Youth Declaration from the 2022 Dushanbe, Tajikistan Conference. However, the report does reflect the current situation in 30 African nations, and other sectors linked to water (energy, fashion, mines, agriculture….). Over 80 youth from Africa, covering 8 key sectors with impact on water were invited to take part in the zoom event. During which the mapping report was presented and discussed.

Youth Parliament Contributions
The objective of the event was to finalise the mapping of all 55 African countries as concerns key water-impacting youth organizations. And to promote the solutions to be proposed at the 2023 UN Water Conference. During the working session, there was a presentation of the current working state of AYPW documents by Hisseine Ganda Ngague, the Co-founder of AYPW.

Key Messages Approved 
There was also a message from high level stakeholders on the importance of youth by Henk Ovink, the Special Envoy on International Issues from The Netherlands. Meanwhile, the objective of the event was presented by Dr Michele Nken Okala. Discussions included defining priority actions, youth policies in each country, approving key messages and reading the statement on the day’s sitting.

Getting Youth Voices Heard  
“In order to get the voices of African youth heard, things must be done differently. For the World Youth Movement for Water, focus was on youth policies. We hope to redynamise 54 African youth policies to offer youth a place in decision-making. The African Union in 2006 launched the African Youth Charter to encourage countries to put in place youth policies. But no information exists on the progress made in this direction ever since,” organizers observed. 

2023 Water Conference
The United Nations 2023 Water Conference, formally known as the 2023 Conference for the Midterm Comprehensive Review of Implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028), holds at UN Headquarters in New York, USA from March 22-24, 2023. It will be co-hosted by Tajikistan and The Netherlands.

Billions Of People Without Safe Water!
According to the UN, billions of people worldwide are still without safely-managed drinking water and sanitation. Though access to both services has long been defined as a human right. Water and poverty are closely linked. Without water, there is no development, and without development, it is impossible to eradicate poverty.

Expected Conference Outcomes
The UN 2023 Water Conference is expected to adopt the Water Action Agenda as a main outcome representing voluntary commitments of countries and stakeholders to meet the global water-related goals and targets. The Conference will open on 22 March, World Water Day. The vision statement of the Water Conference calls, among others, for the identification of opportunities and innovative ways and means to accelerate progress on integrated water resources management. 




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