Making strides in Water Governance - Malawi National Youth Water Network

Following the SADC Water Week Conference held at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe, Malawi from the 13-15 May, 2015, the Malawi National Youth Water Network (MNYWN) was formed on the 14th of May, 2015. The setting up of the Network was in line with the SADC program for the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) Policy and Strategy on Mainstreaming Youth in the Water and Sanitation Sector through the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Water Aid and Malawi Water Partnership.

The MNYWN is non-profit making, youth led network working with youth, youth serving organizations, university groups, rural youth groups and schools. It was formed to coordinate youth efforts in water and sanitation governance, to ensure the inclusion and active participation of youth voices and to contribute to government efforts through participatory and community-led approaches. The MNYWN envisions a water secure generation and the mission is to coordinate and promote water and sanitation related youth led intervention for socio economic development and better livelihood. 

The Network has to date undertaken the following activities; holding administrative meetings in order to plan and review progress of the network and also enhance communication and coordination among executive members and network members. Under programming, the network, through National Youth Network on climate change organized a public talk on effects of climate change and water resources management and water governance. The public lecture targeted about 100 youth and was held at Dzenza Secondary School on the 7th of November 2015.

A study on waste management and advocacy was also carried out; the objective was to assess willingness to accept an Integrated Solid Waste Management System in Mzuzu city. The study results were presented at the National Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Symposium – 2015 at BICC Lilongwe and resulted in the commencement of a Waste Management Project by Mzuzu Young Voices. This project included the conduction of clean up campaigns in Mzuzu City and door to door waste collection as part of entrepreneurship drive. This is in line with the national action plan of empowering the youth in innovation and promoting innovations in the water sector at local level. This was done from June to August, 2015.

Some of the MNYWN members also participated during the SADC Forum on Youth Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Water and Sanitation Sector held from the 22nd to the 23rd of September 2015 at Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Forum was convened as part of the implementation of the SADC Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020, the Declaration on Youth Development and Empowerment, the SADC Strategy and Business Plan 2015-2020: Youth Participation and Empowerment for Sustainable Development, and the AMCOW Policy and Strategy for Mainstreaming Youth in the Water and Sanitation Sector in Africa  - all of which prioritize integration of youth empowerment, monitoring, evaluation and reporting in priority sectors of SADC. The network was also privileged to be part of the global community who attended the conference of Youth and UNFCCC COP21 negotiations in Paris, France.

The Network also embarked on updating the database of members and about 15 new youth led organizations were registered. The network in collaboration with Act Alliance conducted a tree planting exercise where 2,500 trees were planted alongside Lilongwe river, Mchesi – Central hospital side, this was part of a collaborative effort to address high levels of deforestation in the area. The network mobilized about 50 students from Mchesi Community Day Secondary School and 20 out of school youth around Kaware area.

Some of the many objectives of Network are to coordinate youth-led water and sanitation youth led activities in Malawi; enhance youth active participation in water resources management and water governance; mobilize youths to take full charge in promoting water and sanitation governance and environmental protection activities; sensitize the youths and communities on WASH and also the danger of climate change; build capacity of youth in water resources and climate change management; educate youth to enhance their understanding of issues concerning sustainable development and innovation and instil a sense of responsibility and engage youth in environmental stewardship.

The setting up of the MNYWN is a building block for Global Water Partnership (GWP) where youth integration is viewed as a cross-cutting strategy area. After realizing that when given the right opportunities, youth can be effective drivers for change in their communities, making significant and long-lasting contributions to all areas, including sustainable development and water resources management, GWP launched its Youth Engagement Strategy at Stockholm World Water Week on the 25th of August 2015.