Bernadette Shalumbu : Namibian Youth Voices on Water Conservation
According To Think Namibia, water’s central role in the biosphere has long implied that several of the most important challenges confronting human development are related to fresh water. This has been true for decades and will only intensify without a change in the course of human water use. If we are serious about meeting human development objectives for the coming century, the way we plan and manage water resources must give precedence to improved governance, effective stakeholder participation and capacity building.
This is where the Namibian youth have joined in. Bernadette Shalumbu from the Namibian Youth Water Task Team of the Southern African Development Community Youth Water Forum talks to MYD Earth about this very pressing national and global issue.
MYD: What is the aim of the Namibian Youth Forum Task Team on Water?
Last year Namibia hosted, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry as well as SADC, the Water Week. It’s a five year activity that all SADC countries take part in, and before this Water Week took place we had to have what was called the Youth Forum and so our Water Youth Namibia is birthed from this Youth Forum. The reason why we have this Youth Forum, in addition to it being initiated by SADC, is to have a local platform in Namibia where the youth could voice their opinions when it comes to issues of water, sanitation and environment.
MYD: How are you proactively engaging the youth in matters such as sustainable water management, environmental protection, sanitation, health and hygiene?
Through this Youth Forum we have since last year had various committees where we actively engaged the youth. This included public dialogues, various talks and awareness campaigns to highlight some of the issues where the youth could voice their opinions.
MYD: What are the expected outcomes of the Namibia Youth Water Task Team?
We have quite a long list. One of them is to promote and enhance the ownership of the SADC Water Programs by mainstreaming youth involvement in the environment, water and sanitation sector. The Youth Forum is a result of the bigger SADC water initiative, and is aimed at promoting and increasing participation channels for young people to be engaged in the various activities within these different sectors.
MYD: What are some of your successes to date?
The Task Force had the opportunity to meet the Youth Advisor at the State House, and then we also took part in SADC engagements and training sessions. We have also had two public dialogues on water, environment and sanitation.
MYD: What challenges does the team face?
The first one is the funding. In order to carry out any activities we need funding, but besides that the participation is not really an ‘agenda’ – but as long as the youth are interested there’s always a platform to get people together, so I would say definitely just funding.
MYD: And the youth, are they interested?
Of course, not just about water, but about the environment and sanitation. Climate change is currently the buzz word, everybody wants to know more. So young people are definitely interested in learning more and are sharing what they are doing and how they can improve the situation.
MYD: So what’s the next initiative coming up from the Namibian Youth Forum Task Team?
Because of the funding that we’re not getting, some of the activities are not getting done but we have two opportunities to have public dialogues this year. We just have to decide on what the topic will be and what is of interest to the youth.
Listen to the full interview below or catch the MYD Earth Show on 99FM every Monday at 18h00.