Investing in the next generation for universal rural water services

Word from the RWSN Chair: Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF

This month we celebrated International Youth Day (on August 12th). More than half of the world’s population today is under 30:  1.8 billion people are between the ages of 10-24. And nine out of 10 people between the ages 10 and 24 live in less developed countries (UNFPA, 2014). These demographic trends mean it is vital to ensure full participation of young people in rural water supplies.

Whilst 1% of the global workforce works directly in water and sanitation jobs (UN, 2016) attracting skilled workers to rural areas remains a key constraint: according to GLAAS (2014), of the 67 countries that reported on systems operation and maintenance, only 11 had the capacity to operate and maintain their rural drinking systems.  And globally women make up less than 17 percent of the water, sanitation, and hygiene labour force (IWA, 2016).

Young people clearly have a role to play to ensure the Global Goals for rural water become a reality by 2030. Yet, 75% of young people in developing countries are either unemployed or in irregular or informal employment (viS4YE, 2015). The recruitment and development of young professionals will be critical to the future of the rural water sector.

RWSN’s new Strategy 2018-2024 has embraced our work as an opportunity to engage with young people and empower them to be agents of change.  This current generation of young people will be the ones leading the way- in our communities and countries- towards the achievement of the SDG vision of universal access to safe drinking water.

Recent activities:

Already this exciting agenda has been launched into action and we have some exceptional young water professionals leading the way:

  • 6 early-career UPGro researchers from Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda and New Zealand had the opportunity to tell the story of their groundwater research to a packed auditorium at the 41st WEDC Conference in Nakuru,  Kenya
  • Shabana Abbas, from Pakistan, has gone from being a junior researcher in the UPGro programme to a full-time job at Aqua for All, in the Netherlands. Shabana is also the President of the Water Youth Network and a member of the REACH programme Junior Global Advisory Panel
  • Muna Omar is an Ethiopian refugee and a young water professional, living and working in Sana’a, Yemen, undertaking monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian programmes in WASH. Muna took part in the RWSN-CapNet online course on Drilling Professionalisation. Read her story on the RWSN blog.

More Coming Up: 

There will be other opportunities to get involved in Young Professional events in the months ahead.

 @Stockholm World Water Week

  • The Youth for Water and Climate “Quality Assurance Lab” (Wednesday 29th): young fellows/ entrepreneurs will pitch their projects and present their posters to a series of reviewers who will work with them giving feedback on their projects.
  • An informal event at the Swiss Water Partnership booth (Wednesday 29th from 4 pm to 6 pm): where 14 young entrepreneurs will pitch their project/ social enterprises to people present.

@UNC Water & Health Conference

Two RWSN Sessions are an opportunity for rural water and WASH professionals, young and old, to engage with the issues and meet each other:

  • Pipe dream or possible: Reaching the furthest behind first in the WASH sector?
  • Monitoring & Data for Rural Water: Different perspectives, common goals

Join our growing community of Young Rural Water Professionals!

The RWSN network has over 10,000 members and provides a unique platform to bring together young professionals and seasoned sector experts and practitioners from around the world.  

 We encourage you to reach out to your colleagues who are Young Professionals to help shape the future next generation of RWSN!  If you are under 35, Sign-up here: https://dgroups.org/rwsn/rwsn_yrwp

 

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