Swaziland Water Youth Forum - Enhancing Learning on Effective Water Resource Management

The Swaziland Water Youth Forum is an entity under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy, housed in the Department of Water Affairs. The forum was established during the SADC Water Week held in Swaziland last year. The forum has an action plan that includes raising awareness of the water sector among young people so as to enhance their participation in national development issues. 

To date, the forum has been involved in a number of activities. Key among them was a water water competition themed; Effective Water Resource Management for Life, which was launched in January 2016. The forum committee approached several potential partners including; Swaziland MTN, The Thirst Project, UNICEF, Fairwater/Boode Foundation, Swaziland Water Services Corporation (SWSC), Komati River KOBWA, Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC), GWPSA and WaterAid for assistance with the competition advertisement, stationery, consolation prizes, and transport costs. Support was obtained from most of the partners approached. Key sponsors of the event were the Thirst Project, Fairwater/Boode Foundation and WaterAid. SWSC and KOBWA agreed to a learning visit/ excursion to which selected competition participants may be brought to their facilities to view dam operation on power generation and a water treatment plant. SWSC further agreed to offer job shadows to two of the competition participants. The financial assistance from the Thirst Project was partly used to print posters of the competition and with the assistance of the Ministry of Education; these were distributed to all the high schools in the country. The Swaziland Broadcasting Service allowed the Forum to make several announcements of the competition on the radio to assist with the advertising.

The competition was well received amongst stakeholders. A total of 66 entries were received, 9 models and 57 essays from 15 different schools spread out in all four regions of the country. Twenty of the best entries were chosen for a prize giving ceremony to be covered by local media for further awareness raising efforts. With the help of UNICEF, and the Ministry of Education a complementary venue was acquired for the prize-giving event and financial support from GWPSA used to cover transportation and meal costs on the day.

The forum saw great opportunity for raising awareness during the 2016 World Water Day celebrations. Therefore, on the 21st March, 2016, the Swaziland Water Youth Forum engaged the students of St Francis High School on a march to showcase and raise awareness on the global movement #endwaterpoverty. This was an appropriate day to have this march since it was a joint celebration for world water day, world meteorology day and world forestry day. On this day the Ministries of Natural Resources and Energy and that of Tourism and Environmental Affairs joined forces with the Siphofaneni community to educate the public on the interconnectivity of forests, climate change and water scarcity. It was a great pleasure for the youth forum to be part of the proceedings. Financial assistance from the Thirst Project was used to purchase promotional materials for this day including a banner, t-shirts and hats branded with the world water day message. 

Additionally, on the second day of the celebrations during a symposium, the forum was present and participating. We were able to exhibit some of the models built by participants of the youth water competition as well as give a briefing of the forum’s activities. The forum was also able to get students from local high school to participate in a panel discussion that included water sector professionals answering questions about the water crisis. In this way the forum was able to live up to its mandate of enhancing the participation of young people in pertinent dialogues about the water sector.

Going forward, it is the hope of the committee members that some of the suggestions gathered from the youth by means of the competition may eventually be implemented into actual water projects. For example one of the competition participants made a model of a car wash that recycles water. It seems to be that some of the suggestions such as these may be an opportunity for the forum to move forward from a platform for dialogue to an actual participator in the development to the water sector through innovation and creativity. These plans are yet to be developed and considered in detail.

 For further information, contact: Chishala Kapupu cekapupu@gmail.com