Youth mobilization and awareness session held to advance water related issues in Madagascar and Regionally

Madagascar held its SADC Water Week on the 3rd, 4th and 5th June at the Ivato Conference Centre in Antananarivo. This event was held in high esteem given the present context in Madagascar. In fact, it has just been about 17 months since Madagascar was welcomed back in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). On Wednesday the 3rd, a joint session was held for media experts and the youth to provide them with some relevant background information on this SADC initiative. The meeting brought together  youth from the water sector and beyond, as well as media experts from various ministries, some NGOs, civil societies and academic institutions.

The Secretary General of the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Mr Raymond Harimanga Randrema presided the joint session on behalf of Mrs Johanita Ndahimananjara, Minister of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene of Madagascar. He applauded the SADC initiative to engage the youth and the media who, in Madagascar’s opinion, represent a very important and influential category of stakeholders. Thereafter the youth and journalists broke into their separate meetings. A considerable number of 40 young professionals and pupils attended these deliberations and the gender was rather well-balanced as there were 19 women for 21 men.

The youth national focal point, Mrs Rakotojoelimaria Rindra emphased the great potential inherent to the youth as well as the challenges faced by young Malagasy. The points which stood out were the lack of professional vocations from the youth, resulting from the poor exposure and vulgarisation of the sector within academic institutions form an early stage. Youth were also made aware of the regional tools and opportunities available to them at the regional level. For instance, Dr Jean-Marie Kileshye Onema, manager of WATERNET, encouraged young Malagasy to apply for training and post-graduate courses in selected institutions throughout the SADC region.

The vibrant Malagasy young participants brainstormed over matters and possible activities that they deemed important according to their relevance. The restitutions of the group work identified the following as priorities:

-          Valorisation of the youth and of their relevance and vulgarisation of the water sector in schools and academic institutions.

-          Promotion of entrepreneurship amongst youth and motivation to undertake water careers

-           Promotion of sensitization of youth over fun activities such as competitions, calls for internships, etc

-          Promotion of training and capacity development workshops both at national and regional level

-          Design a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to keep track of the implementation of all the identified activities.

WaterAid has been strongly active in contributing to the youth participation to the forum and some youth made presentations on the situational analysis, urging their fellow youth to show more interest and dedication towards improving water status in Madagascar. At the end of the meeting, the young Malagasy agreed on key points and activities to be undertaken in the near future at both national and regional levels. As advised, they constituted a formal structure which intends to lead the way and communicate with SADC at the regional level to facilitate the implementation of the key activities.

Mr Jean-Marie Kileshye Onema, manager of WaterNET and representative of the SADC delegation in Madagascar applauded the local organising committee as well as all the youth for their enthusiasm and professionalism in organising a successful workshop. He further encouraged them to make use of the WaterNet platform available to them in order to enhance capacity building among water professionals. On this note he thanked all the participants and officially closed the youth forum.