Social Good Summit 2017 Concludes in Kigali leaving the youth committed to drive the SDGs Agenda

Oct 12, 2017

Kigali, October 12, 2017-  Under the theme “Youth Driving the SDGs: Future in Focus #2030Now” and in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, UNDP held yet another successful Social Good Summit.

The 2017 summit which attracted close to a thousand students was designed as a teleconference connecting three Universities. These include the University of Kigali as the main site, University of Rwanda (Huye Campus) and Kigali Independent University (Gisenyi Campus) as remote sites.

The event served as a platform to promote deeper public awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and led to a discussion with youth on how the developmental agenda will impact them and on their role as important stakeholders in the realization of the SDGs in Rwanda.

 

The Hon. Minister of Youth, Rosemary MBABAZI, who was the chief guest and keynote speaker, appealed to young Rwandans to think outside the box and become solution providers rather than lament about the social and economic problems in their communities.

You are the Rwanda of tomorrow. You need to innovate. Have a vision, start small and you'll grow big,” Minister Mbabazi said.

She further pointed out that the SDGs should not only exist on paper, but should be practical programmes and initiatives that can help transform the lives of youth and help those with innovative ideas to develop solutions to various challenges facing society.

“When I talk about the SDGs, I am talking about your role to innovate, to find a solution to something that others would never have thought possible or feasible,” she said.

Also talking at the summit, the One UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Rwanda, Mr. Fodé NDIAYE shared with the students the global overview of the SDGs and explained the contrast between the MDGs and the SDGs. He said that contrary to the MDGs, the SDGs are participatory and more comprehensive. He noted that a key principle that is underlying the SDG agenda is leaving no one behind, even in the process of designing the development agenda.

Don’t allow people to decide for you. Be involved, be innovative, and be actors and not beneficiaries. You are the drivers of change. The youth should take responsibility for helping to  design and implement programmes for their future and the future of the planet,” he said.

During a panel discussion, Yvette Ishimwe, the founder of Iriba Clean Water Delivery, a water distribution business in Kayonza District, explained how her business was born out of need to supply her community with safe drinking water, especially during the long dry spells.  

When Ishimwe’s family relocated from Kigali to Kayonza District, the experience was overwhelming, and it was hard for them to settle in, particularly because the place was dry and had no access to clean water for home use. The challenge was, however, seen by Ishimwe as an opportunity to serve her community and make some money in the process.

Kayonza is one of the most water-stressed areas in Rwanda, and experiences severe dry spells. Ishimwe said she conducted some research that revealed that most residents were using dirty water from the neighbouring swamps, which she said endangered their lives.

She said that after analysing the situation, she experimented with a water treatment system – the ultraviolet water purifier – using the family water tank. After she was satisfied with the results, she started supplying clean water to over 20 families in the neighborhood during the pilot phase of the innovation.

I used the feedback to improve all aspects of the business, and continued expanding the water distribution to cover more people in our village,” Ishimwe said.

She noted that she started with one 20,000-litre water tank, but was forced to buy another one with the capacity to hold 10,000 litres to meet demand for safe water in the area. Within a few months, the demand had reached 120,000 litres and Ishimwe decided to buy a third water tank of 35,000 liters.

She said she fetches the water from Lake Muhazi and ferries it using hired bicycles to ensure that water is always available for all her clients.

Ishimwe concluded by saying that young people need to understand their purpose in life and should work to achieve their dreams.

Most of people fail not because they are meant to, but they fail to understand their purpose in life. This is a recipe for failure,” she noted. 

Other speakers at the summit included: Mr. AFRIKA Philibert, University of Kigali Executive Chairman who spoke about the role of education and knowledge to transform society; two young entrepreneurs who have become models in transforming the Rwandan society; Ms Yvette ISHIMWE, founder founder of Iriba Clean Water Delivery; and Mr. Patrick BUCYANA, founder of Tap and Go solution.

The Social Good Summit is an annual event that takes place around the time of the UN General Assembly. It is intended to promote open discussions on different solutions that can be adopted to make the world a better place for future generations.

This year’s event focused on the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets by 2030. The SDGs were adopted in 2015 and are intended in part to complete the unfinished business of the predecessor Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which guided the efforts of many countries to achieve lasting development gains for their people. The Rwanda Summit involved students and young entrepreneurs, government officials, academia and the One UN. The Summit held discussions on ways to foster partnerships for the SDG agenda and support Rwanda’s efforts to achieve the goals and targets by 2030. 

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