The Namibian Youth Water Task Team of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Youth Water Forum has elected an executive committee.
In response to the need for more youth participation in water matters, the SADC Youth Water Forum held its first meeting at the House of Democracy in Windhoek on July 23 Namibia.
Faith Simataa was elected as chairperson, Joachim Komeheke (vice chairperson), Bernadette Shalumbu (fund mobiliser), Priscilla Mundilo (spokesperson) and Tiffany Claasen (secretary).
The Youth Water Task Team organised the event, following the regional SADC Water Week in May 2015, which was held under the theme, ‘From Vision to Action’.
The meeting aimed to create awareness of the forum to stakeholders; solicit inputs to the draft an action plan, and most importantly, to discuss ways to proactively engage the youth in matters of national importance affecting the sector, such as sustainable water management, environmental protection, sanitation, health and hygiene.
Water is a fundamental resource for sustainable development. It is pivotal for economic growth, essential to human sustenance, food production and energy for a rapidly growing population and it plays a vital function in sustaining ecosystems for future generations. The involvement of the Namibian youth is essential in conserving and securing this vital resource.
The forum was attended representatives of various institutions and tertiary education students. Several presenters set the scene for the meeting by highlighting the duties of the SADC Water Youth Group in Namibia and the expected outcomes of the forum.
The meeting looked at state of the environment and water resources in Namibia, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
Guest speakers at the forum were Dr. Mary Seely, the founder of the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN), Luiza Shekupe, Senior Manager: Grant Management and Mobilisation of the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) and Gabriel Moses, an Environmental Health Practitioner from the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS).
The main talking points at the forum were: sustainable development in the sector and governance at decision-making levels; capacity building of the youth in the sector for economic development; the importance of accurate and consistent datasets to effect water resource planning and compliance; encouraging innovative ideas by the youth to address the challenges in the water and related sectors; finalising the draft action plan to secure buy-in from key stakeholders and ensure sustainability of the forum.
The expected long-term outcomes of the SADC Water Youth Group initiative are to broaden the platform for information sharing, youth engagement and giving the youth a voice. They plan to stage a Roadshow awareness and educational campaign by visiting schools with a national representation.
The meeting also highlighted the need for professional development training and capacity building programmes in both public and private sectors, as well as the need to establish links of cooperation with line institutions or ministries.
The committee will busy itself with drafting proposals for project funding, as well as drafting a constitution for the Youth Water Task Team.