During spring 2020, the Secretariat International for Water launched the “Global Youth Take Action” call for solutions to answer the need expressed by youths who wanted to get involved in their communities. Following the call for solutions, 9 projects led by young leaders worldwide were selected to receive technical and financial support. The main goal of this call for solution: Tackling water challenges enhanced by the COVID-19 health crisis.
After several months of hard work, we are glad to announce that all projects selected have successfully been completed or are on the last stretch. We are proud of the ingenuity, resilience and adaptation skills that these young passionate water leaders have shown throughout this journey.
Let’s look back on the solutions developed by the young leaders during the implementation of these projects and their distinctive positives impacts within the communities. We hope these projects will inspire and motivate other youth around the world to take action.
1. Indonesia: Millenials Fight COVID-19
This project led by the Youth with Sanitation Concerns (YSC) team aimed to improve the health and living standards of the Gudang Agen community by enhancing water access and by adopting better hygiene practices in response to the pandemic. Three main goals were defined: educate, rehabilitate, sustain. The cooperation between the project leaders and the residents of the community was a key element in the success and sustainability of this project.
Through a multi-platform awareness campaign, the YSC educated a total of 106 families on the importance of handwashing, especially in face of the current pandemic. Moreover, 15 families now have access to a proper sanitation facility powered by clean energy thanks to the rehabilitation of a broken public toilet and the installation of a sink with soap. Finally, a management group was formed and trained to ensure the maintenance of the infrastructure and the sustainability of the project. The positive impacts on sanitary habits within the community are tangible. Due to the proven success of the project, the sub-district leader wants to implement a similar initiative in 6 other sub-districts.
2. Ghana: Kyensu – Community Water Share Kiosk for Slum Households
The current pandemic has a negative impact on the access to drinking water sources of several communities worldwide. After conducting a proper needs analysis, the youth leaders of the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM) selected a community of informal settlers on the outskirt of Accra where water access was most difficult to develop a community water-sharing project in response to this challenge. The project achieved its initial objective of fighting water poverty by offering access to clean drinking water to over 700 people. But the impacts were much broader than expected.
The young Ivy Nego is a great example of how easily accessible drinking water can be a life-changer for many children: “I now leave for school early because there’s no need to walk for more than a kilometre anymore and I have adequate time for my books after school ends for the day.” It was also a great opportunity to promote gender equality and the importance of young women in water governance and management. A youth water board was elected democratically to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project with a majority of young women on his board member. GYEM intends to launch a fundraiser and a partnership drive in 2021 to replicate the project elsewhere.
3. Peru: Biblioteca Sonora del Agua
The project aimed at reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in the rural communities of Quispillacta and Chungui by providing access to reliable information to indigenous communities in their native languages. It also aimed to improve water security by recovering ancestral knowledge on water management. The project leader, Pachapaq, for the Earth, developed a podcast regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in collaboration with four local indigenous youth. The podcast was broadcasted on communal radios in Spanish and Quechua. They also conducted eight capacity-building sessions with these youth to train them as actors of change. The indigenous communities were very grateful that the information was made accessible in their native language. The collaboration and the implication of indigenous youth were key elements in the success of the project.
According to the young project leaders: “The value of this project is in the exchange of knowledge between different sectors of society and in the promotion of intercultural communication with a simple and effective language. It seeks a more inclusive and fair society.” The members of Pachapaq, for the Earth want to continue exchanging knowledge with indigenous leaders to recover the ancestral methods regarding water management, build alliances and continue developing podcasts in different languages to ensure equal access to information.
4. Madagascar: Eau’Sytech
This project led by Association Tihary aimed at increasing access to drinking water in Behisty through the empowerment of youth and to increase the use of simplified artisanal water filters in low-income households. This project took form after water analysis results showed the water from the spring used by the community wasn’t safe to drink and presented coliform and other bacteria such as E-Coli.
During the implementation of the project, nineteen youths of the community were educated on water cycles, COVID-19 and water purification methods. They were also trained on how to fabricate the water filters. The youth shared this knowledge with over three hundred households, teaching them how to build their own water filters. The ease of the technique disseminated, the proximity of the materials used, and the involvement of the local youth are the key factors of the success of this initiative, which today makes it possible to ensure access to drinking water for hundreds of households. The local leaders wish to implement a similar initiative in neighbouring communities.
5. Benin : L’hygiène chasse le coronavirus
JCI Natitingou Baobad led this project which aimed to facilitate access to information in the context of a health crisis to improve household hygiene by integrating rationalized water management in a landlocked region of northern Benin. The involvement of various stakeholders such as local authorities and local health officers and the creation of school clubs ensured the implementation of the project and its sustainability.
About 650 households were educated about the COVID-19 disease through awareness-raising activities, mainly led by the school clubs. Odile TATAMATA, a 36-year-old mother beneficiary of the project, is a great example of the positive impacts of access to information and sensitization. With JCI Natitingou Baobad campaign, she finally got information about the COVID-19 virus and how to protect herself and her family from it. The group also helped her install a handwashing station at her house. She then shared that knowledge with three of her neighbours and helped them install the same handwashing station.
6. Benin : STOP COVID-19 au niveau de la tête du bassin versant de la Mékrou – La jeunesse s’engage
The project led by ONG Tandeme Generations seeks to promote the adoption of barrier gestures among the populations at the head of the Mekrou basin through sensitization and the training of young artisans on the production of hand soap, hand-washing devices and face covers. The implementation of the project was very efficient and the community was thus rapidly educated on how to protect themselves properly against COVID-19. More than 500 people were directly sensitized.
Over 250 young artisans, including 205 girls, were giving new tools to help their community in the fight against COVID-19. The trainings focused on how to be good sensitization communicators and how to produce essential products such as soap and face masks. Winceslas SERO, a beneficiary of the project, is one example of the positive impact of this small-scale project on the life of the artisans involved. He now has better communication skills, especially on how to encourage behaviour change. He wants to get more involved in sensitization within his neighbourhood. SERO also plans on making an additional revenue stream out of his new soap fabrication skills.
7. Togo : Projet d’appui aux jeunes pour la sécurité alimentaire et l’amélioration de leurs revenus
This project, led by Groupe d’entraide Agricole des jeunes, aims to enhance food security and increase market gardening revenues. To reach these goals, the project was divided into two main axes: build a borehole equipped with a solar pumping system with a water reservoir to provide freshwater for market gardening and drinking water to local farmers and learn and educate the population about sustainable agriculture techniques.
Throughout the project, 10 young leaders were educated and trained about sustainable agriculture techniques which they now put into practice in their agricultural activity. These new practices make the farmers more resilient to drought and less weather dependant. The borehole project is on its way. The drilling phase took longer than expected. The team also secured a subvention for the solar pumping kit. This water source will increase the revenues of the farmers by providing irrigation water even during the dry season, making it possible for them to produce food all year round. It will also ensure water security for the community. The project is a great example of how empowering the youth has a positive effect socially and economically.
8. Kyrgyzstan: Green Rangers
This project, led by Nursultan Karabaev, strengthened the participation of youth in water resources management by organizing a “Green Rangers actions summer camp” in Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan transboundary communities thus contributing to peaceful sharing of water between neighbours.
The camp was held when it was judged safe for the participants to attend the three-day event. 50 youth were selected from these three communities to participate in this transboundary water management training camp. The focus of the training camp was on the impact of climate change on water resources, including a trip to Tortkul water reservoir to illustrate its crucial role and the possible impact of climate changes on the quantity of water available in the future. The participants also worked on developing an early response system to natural disasters and on peaceful recommendations for sustainable transboundary water management to incorporate into the new Water Strategic Plan. This camp was a unique experience for the young to get a taste of working in the water sector.
9. Kazakhstan: Access to safe drinking water in Kazakhstan and shared water use in Central Asia
According to official data from Kazakhstan, 92.6% of the population has access to a centralized water supply system in cities and 64.3% in rural areas. However, citizens of the regions often complain about the quality of drinking water, and in some regions, there are some disease patterns among the population. The drinking water quality standards in Kazakhstan differ from those in OECD countries in that the concentrations of certain chemicals in drinking water are not regulated by Kazakh legislation. Therefore, the EcoUnion team decided to analyze all the data relating to access to drinking water in Kazakhstan and to show, on an online map open to all, the real access of the population to drinking water and its quality throughout Kazakhstan. This card is used to inform the public, civil society, and local authorities. In addition, the Association of Practicing Ecologists collected data and prepared an analytical report on surface water quality standards in Central Asian countries and an analysis of drinking water quality standards in Kazakhstan and in OECD countries.