A kick-start to the 3-day event was a joint session for youth and media. The joint session comprised about 70 participants, chiefly media and youth representatives. The youth representatives present in the event included various Youth Networks, Government, NGO Youth Representatives, and Secondary and Tertiary education groupings.
The afternoon session on the first day ran two parallel sessions: a media training on water issues and a youth forum. At the end of the Youth Water Forum, action plans will be developed to form a basis for the work of the youth in Swaziland on Environment Water and Sanitation issues. Media attending the event expressed the desire to be empowered in writing articles that have strategic priorities on water resources management.
The joint session was opened by Ms Nompumelo Ntshalintshali, who represented the Director of the Department of Water Affairs. In her opening remarks she emphasised the need for youth and media to be provided with platforms to raise their voices and be given support in doing so. Ms Ntshalintjali further highlighted that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy is committed to supporting all the Youth initiatives in the country and ensuring that the youth action plans developed during the youth forum are implemented accordingly.
Ms Ntshalintjali further stated that once the youth strategy has been formulated, there will be a youth forum that is expected to be held and drive the youth interests in water issues in the country. The Youth programmes will be in line with His Majesty’s vision 2022, and will also feed into the SADC Regional Action Plan (RSAP IV).
Dr. Kenneth Msibi, during his opening remarks on behalf of SADC emphasised that all media play a fundamental role in making others know what is crucial for water development. Dr. Msibi further emphasised that “for sustainability, the SADC youth must be part of the Regional water Programme”.
The build up to the youth forum dates back to 2010 when the SADC Council directed Ministries of Youth in the region to meet and coordinate Regional Policies and programmes on youth development. Following the directive, the Ministers of Youth recommended that their meetings should be preceded by a SADC Youth Forum. These initiatives resulted in the development of a draft SADC Youth Strategy, Business Plan (2015-2020) and Regional Strategic Plans (RSAP II & III). These documents identify youth as stakeholders in the water sector and emphasise youth participation, empowerment and coordination to enable the youth to contribute to the national and regional integration and development agenda.
Jointly organised by SADC and the Ministry responsible for Water in the Member States in collaboration with the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa office (working through the Global Water Partnership Country Water Partnerships), the SADC National Water Weeks are being held in the SADC countries between March and July 2015. Some country Chapters of WaterAid have provided support to the Youth forums that have been held in countries. Swaziland is the 7th country to hold the SADC water weeks.