DRC Youth as Partners in the Regional Water Programme

The Cercle Elais Hotel in the Commune of Gombe in Kinshasa, DRC was a hive of the SADC Water week activities that ran from the 27th - 29th of April, 2015. This highly anticipated event was perceived as a big water celebration and brought together national stakeholders from a variety of sectors including civil societies, academic institutions and consumer associations. The programme started with the journalists training which was coupled with the youth forum in an attempt to provide the media practitioners with topic ideas on the challenges and realities faced by the young water professionals. The youth aged from 15 to 35 years old were representatives of various students associations, youth organisations and private companies. 


Professor Raphael Tshimanga, national youth focal point, provided some background for the youth in DRC after which the youth were enabled to voice their opinions and challenges. The lack of capacity building and lack of integration from the senior water experts were the key challenges that were echoed by the youth. Additionally, the youth were able to actively provide input to a national action plan in the following objectives:

-          Improve the socio-economic development by increasing youth involvement in the sector;

-          Ensure sustainability by increasing capacity building opportunities for the youth;

-          Promote innovation by taking into consideration and supporting youth contribution in the water sector;

-          Improve governance and leadership within the youth;

-          Capitalize on the cross-cutting factor of water across all sectors

The young professionals were further able to identify specific activities as well as performance indicators and implementation methods to make an impact in their respective sectors. The importance of gender mainstreaming was re-emphasized during the presentations on IWRM principles and their implications for the youth. A special mention was given to gender mainstreaming as it forms a part in the SADC overarching objective in the region. In that regard, it was interesting to note that almost half of the young professionals were women with all of them holding at least a degree.

At the end of the deliberations, a leading structure was constituted with committees to undertake the tasks agreed upon. The highlight of the event materialised when the youth put together a play which summarized the perceptions of the general public. They deemed it important to differentiate water in the river courses from potable water from the tap and emphasized the capacity building and resources mobilisation towards the treatment of the water.

 The leading structure was later invited to the main event on the 28th and 29th of April in order to contribute actively and in a notable way towards the formulation of the Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) IV which will be implemented from 2016 to 2020. It was also an opportunity to bridge the gap between generations. The young professionals were able to connect with their prospective mentors whilst the water experts acknowledged the potential inherent to the youth.

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