Yepper Gcinile Dlamini at UN Water Conference: “Support local teams”

Gcinile Dlamini is one of the Young Experts of the Blue Deal programme in Eswatini. She was part of the Blue Deal delegation that went to the UN Water Conference 2023 that took place from March 22 until March 24. “Sometimes it just takes one person taking responsibility, even if it is attending to minor issues. And when the next person is doing the same, then we can actually achieve something bigger.”

The conference was co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands. It was the first time in 46 years that the UN convened a Water Conference to raise attention to water. The Blue Deal went there with a delegation. Dlamini was invited to join, to be the voice of the youth for the Blue Deal.

What was it like to go to the UN Water Conference?

“The UN Water Conference really inspired me, it was amazing to be part of something that big. Usually, when we see problems around us that are as overwhelming as the water crisis, it’s easy to push the responsibility to take action and think: it’s not my job, it’s not my baby to care for. The problems we face with water every day, you think that as an individual there’s nothing you can do. But going to the conference… there was the urge and encouragement to do something. To think about: what can we do, how can we change the situation?”

“Sometimes it just takes one person taking responsibility, even if it is attending to minor issues. And when the next person is doing the same, then we can actually achieve something bigger. It doesn’t take rocket science to solve the issues in the water sector.”

What was most inspiring to you?

“The youth. They had fire, they want to be involved. They want to do the work. They are actually taking the initiative, they did not sit back and wait to be called to the table. It was amazing to see that. I’m not used to seeing young people do that. Because youth unemployment is so high in Eswatini, usually we just want to get a job and make a living. Things like water youth parliaments, we don’t have that in our country.”

What are you going to do with what you learned at the conference?

“I want to get together a group in my country in the water sector, a platform for the youth. I want people to talk about these issues, so they can be addressed.”
“And I also want to be the inspiration in my work team. I work for a government in a developing country. And there’s always lack of resources. So it’s easy to make an excuse, to not do anything. There’s always something missing to be efficient. But going to the UN motivated me. Sometimes we don’t have the resources, but we do make a difference.”
“When you think no one is supporting you, you lose the zeal to continue working. It is collaborations and partnerships, such as the one my country (the Joint River Basin Authorities-Project Board) has with the Blue Deal, that help us continue to carry out our mandate of managing water resources. During the UN Water Conference the Blue Deal team members made it their priority to ask for assistance and support for local water authorities. So we are not alone. I need to be the voice that reminds my work team that we are doing a great job and that we have the support we need to keep going.”

You also spoke as a panellist during one event. What was your message?

“I was a panellist during the event: ‘Forget about SDG6 without strong water management organizations’. This event was collaboratively organised by WaterWorX, German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), Blue Deal and UNGWOPA. My message was that if we don’t work on supporting local water authorities, then we won’t achieve the SDGs. We, as local teams, are the people who deal directly with water issues. If we are not strengthened, in terms of skills and finances, how are we going to achieve the goals? The focus has to start from the ground up. And then, maybe, there will be a difference.”

How was it for you personally to join the conference?

“It was a great opportunity for me. And I met so many interesting people that I want to keep sharing knowledge and ideas with. Speaking at the event really helped me with my confidence. It’s nice to be heard, even if maybe what you shared is not immediately addressed but it’s no longer on your shoulders alone. It makes everything better.”

“Everyone was popping with ideas. Everyone wanted to figure out how to address this water crisis. No one was sitting back and watching. It was amazing to have everyone stand up for water.”