Two students from the Polytechnic of Namibia, Theopolina Hailonga (21) and Teopolina Hifindwaka (26), say they benefitted greatly from the experience during the recent Youth Water Forum in Windhoek.
Both are studying Public Management, and both say they grasped the connection between the messages from the forum and climate change, which has become a global threat.
”Climate change will affect the balance between water demand and water availability. It is vital to learn about water saving as water is life,” says Hailonga.
Hifindwako says she attended, as she wanted to learn more about how the youth will prepare itself for climate change and water crises like the one Windhoek faces. “We must all learn how to preserve water and ensure sustainable socio-economic growth and development for our country,” she notes.
Water is the main driver for current and future socio-economic growth,
development and improved livelihoods.
The theme of the forum was “Youth opportunities for development, financing and empowerment in the water, sanitation and environment sectors.”
There is a need to establish mechanisms that will build networking opportunities and encourage the transfer of skills between senior professionals, incoming young professionals and students, says Bernadette Shalumbu of the Desert Research Foundation Namibia, one of the co-hosts of the event.
The main sponsor of the forum is the Hans Seidel Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the Global Water Partnership of Southern Africa. The oganisers said a lack of funding in these vital sectors distorts the objective to empower young professionals to contribute meaningfully to sustainable national development.
With the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals, Namibia has yet another opportunity to tackle the country’s development challenges by mainstreaming youth innovation and empowerment in their strategies to implement a transparent and committed leadership, and ensure targeted investment in the water, environment and sanitation sectors.
“The youth are the future leaders of the country, yet they face immense challenges that need to be addressed as a collective by all relevant stakeholders. In addition, many youth platforms have highlighted the need for integration and social inclusion in the decision-making processes. However, there is a serious need and demand for skills development for the youth within the sector to sustainably manage our resources,” said Shalumbu.
He added that the aim of the forum is to bring together relevant stakeholders to discuss youth opportunities for development, financing and empowerment in the water, sanitation and environment sector.
Some of the specific objectives of the forum are to: assemble relevant role players and potential agents for change in the water, sanitation and environment sector; map out mechanisms for youth development and empowerment in the water, sanitation and environment sector; increase awareness about water scarcity challenges in Namibia and the role the private sector can play.
The Forum also advocated for increased efforts towards addressing the development, financing and empowerment gaps for youth in the water, sanitation, farming and environment sector.