CDIA Brings Youthful Energy to Panaji Creek Rejuvenation

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Underscoring the importance of engaging the youth in urban infrastructure project development, CDIA has once again tapped students and members of community-based and civil society organizations to contribute actively in planning for the rejuvenation of St. Inez Creek in Panaji, India. This initiative is part of CDIA’s support to the city in installing a 24/7 water supply and restoring its creek through nature-based solutions.

In the 2nd Youth and Community Engagement Workshop held 17 January 2019, some 21 participants provided concrete courses of action to raise awareness and get the support of local residents in restoring the 6-km waterway to its former state. While some of these proposals may be implemented in a short period of time, others would be refined and further assessed for inclusion in the city’s work plan for the creek’s upgrading.

An interesting proposal specific to awareness raising was given by students of Enactus-Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Goa. Capitalizing on the active student population of Panaji, they thought of targeted knowledge sharing sessions at youth-focused events such as Sports Fest, Tech Fest, marathons, and street theatre. These activities hope to raise awareness on issues relevant to the creek and encourage behavior change towards better waste management and environmental improvement.

Another exciting proposition to build better understanding was from the Global Shapers-Panjim Hub who shared their ideas for creating a community-focused video documentation to celebrate the cultural heritage of the creek. In particular, they aim to showcase the creek’s cultural significance via stories of past and present experiences of residents. The video hopes to not only generate interest, but also pride and ownership – something that is lacking in recent years leading to the creek’s dilapidated state.

Meanwhile, an action-packed, long-term approach was advanced by the local group, ‘Traveling Dome’ which has already done community-led restoration activities such as educational campaigns, clean-ups, tree and garden planting, etc. Through a series of phased interventions, they aim to encourage local residents to take ownership of their environment and provide them with knowledge and tools for the upkeep of their public spaces. They suggested to initially selecting a small portion of the creek in which to: 1) improve walk paths, bridges and ramp; 2) improve water quality through bio-remediation – introducing edge plants and floating garden; 3) reduce creek waste by installing garbage traps; and 4) create a designated community area and activity center for information, maintenance and recreational activities.

“From our youth and community engagement activities in Panaji, we have established the fact that young men and women are a rich source from which to draw fresh wisdom and interesting insights critical for the city’s development,” said CDIA’s Youth Engagement Specialist Lee Lambert. “It is important therefore to capitalize on, and harness this great potential by listening more, understanding more, and empowering the youth to actively shape the kind of future that they would like to have,” he added.

On World Cities Day on October 31 of last year, CDIA hosted the first Youth and Community Engagement Workshop, which allowed participants to do visioning activities for their city, and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) exercise to allow them to brainstorm on potential short-term youth-led and community-based activities to improve the creek, while addressing environmental, social and economic aspects of the upgrading process. Read more.

Relatively, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Plan International UK have recently launched a report on What’s the Evidence? Youth Engagement and Sustainable Development Goals, which provides a body of evidence to support the design and implementation of youth programming. CDIA, as an ADB-managed Trust Fund, mainstreams youth engagement in inclusive urban infrastructure projects and will soon implement youth-led activities in other cities where CDIA has ongoing project preparation support.

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