For the fourth year in a row, the Swedish Water House, together with the International Water Association, yesterday arranged the Young Water Professionals seminar at the World Water Week in Stockholm International Water Association at the World Water Week in Stockholm. One thing that we wanted to change this year was to give more time for discussions since these have proved to be very interesting, full of creative ideas, thoughts and perspectives. Our experience has been that the time for discussions often has felt too short, thus, we made an exercise for the YWPs to work with- hoping for a more interactive seminar. The exercise the participants were given was to rebuild the city of Banda Aceh that was shattered by the tsunami in 2004. How do we build a city that provides for its people while at the same time being socially and environmentally sustainable? What are the best solutions for water supply, sanitation, energy and food production and livelihoods, considering the local context? The participants were divided into these different areas to try to answer this question. When planning their city they both had to consider the overall challenges that Rose-Osinde Alabster (UNICEF) had presented in the beginning of the seminar such as climate change, population growth and unsustainable resource use and the local context (political setting, climate, natural resources available, culture, gender and so on) described by Alastair Morrison (WGF at UNDP).
It soon became clear for the participants that the real challenge was to get all these systems working together. The different systems are largely dependent on the same resources and if not coordinated can easily result in competition for financing, water etc. The young water professionals had many ideas on how these different systems could be integrated. The sanitation group suggested that wastewater could be used both for biogas production, and as fertilizers for agriculture. The water supply group had thought about creating a system that did not use up too much energy. The food production and livelihoods group suggested household gardening as a solution for Aceh and had thought about how to make use of wastewater and rainwater for these gardens. Although there was a realization in all groups that some trade-offs had to be made, the focus was on solutions. Using a case to work with was very much appreciated by the young water professionals. It was a great way of getting the young water professionals engaged -the room was buzzing of ideas! Hopefully, we’ll try something similar next year.
See more pictures from this seminar at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldwaterweek/sets/72157627367549817/
Karin Glaumann, SWH