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Children speak about evaporating water supplies

ISTANBUL, Turkey - March 22 , 2009

The 5th World Water Forum was held in Istanbul, between 16-22 March 2009. As part of this event, an International Children’s Forum was convened with 150 children from 21 countries. The children analysed the problems concerning water supplies in their countries. On the second day, the child participants developed a declaration on water. The declaration was displayed at the information desk and distributed to all participants at the opening of the 5th World Water Forum.

© UNICEF Turkey / 2009
Young participants at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul

Here are the views of some of the children who took part in their forum, interviewed by UNICEF Turkey’s Nilgun Cavusoglu.

Hasan Kenanoğlu from the İstanbul Child Rights Committee (17)

As an international gathering it was a nice experience. Upon the experience we gained from national child forums organized jointly by UNICEF and SHÇEK, we were accorded the status of moderator different from other participants. In general, it was a fruitful experience for us. We had a chance to meet the leaders of many countries as well as other children working in the same field. This gave us the opportunity of sharing experiences.

During our stand visits and talks with participants from other countries we informed our counterparts about activities and projects we were engaged here in Turkey. These talks showed us how far we had gone and made progress in Turkey. For example, our peers from Japan were unaware of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet, here in Turkey we have been developing and implementing projects and trainings on this specific issue and in many others.

I think we informed our visiting peers and adults well about our activities and views. The Water Forum was quite fruitful in gathering children from different countries together and letting them share joint projects and cultural initiatives.

Hazal Hürman from the Yalova Child Rights Committee (18)

We had learned many things from trainings conducted in Turkey in the context of communication. However, this time we had guests from many diverse cultural backgrounds who could attribute different thins to the same thing spoken. In this sense, efforts to keep together so many different participants were both joyful and educative for us as hosts. We have learned many things about countries which we perhaps will never have a chance to see. Above all, as in many other activities with children, I learned once more the need to love others.
 
Another opportunity we had on the occasion of the forum was to meet world leaders. Apart from high level officials from our country, we had an opportunity to meet and learn about some world leaders and the organizers of the Water Forum. Among them, we could talk to Japanese crown prince Naruhito Kotaishi about our projects here in Turkey. It was interesting that while there were many elected leaders at the meeting, participants’ interest focused on this prince. This can be explained by his smiling face and the importance he attached to children. Apart from this, we had a chance to meet and talk to UN representatives and representatives from various NGOs during our visits to stands.

In our stand, we informed visiting guests about the short story of child participation in Turkey. We mentioned provincial child rights committees, how they were composed and how the system was working. We had talks with representatives from several countries to run similar projects together. Many countries are presently lacking the model for child participation like the one we have now. We promised the children and officials we met to help them with our experience and to communicate with them in these issues. Visitors, talked to us about their countries and projects. I hope we’ll have good communication with those from other countries and help some to build awareness about child rights.

In my opinion, we had no problem in conveying our opinions to other children. There were some among us who had difficulty in speaking in another language, but as long as this problem was overcome with the help of translators, communication went well. The problem, rather, was in communicating with adults. The declaration we developed as a result of 3-days work with children could not even be presented to adults. After all, what we were engaged in was not a cultural activity; we had gathered for water issues. But what we had after the event consists of our personal development and opportunity to learn more about other countries. No matter how important this may be, it does not compensate for the problem of not having our opinions heard. Worldwide, there were opponents as well as supporters of the World Water forum.  Had the equalitarian views of children found reflection in the process, some reactions could have been mitigated.  The event as it turned out, however, triggered some suspicion even among participating children.

I think it was a mistake to restrict ideas for a 3-days period and leave them on papers without anybody paying heed. Nevertheless, I must say that participating children enjoyed many activities and learned much while they visited stands. New trans-boundary friendships are of course valuable for us all. I hope these will remain for long. Dialogue among representatives from participating countries was an indication of children’s interest in what was going on. I hope someday we shall gather again in an environment in which world leaders listen to and attach more importance to what children are saying...

Gızem Bırkan from the Trabzon Child Rights Committee (16), National Coordinator of Children’s Network

It was a nice and fruitful experience for me. During the event, we consolidated relations and friendship with our peers whom we already knew. By discussing opportunities for international training and differences in this regard with our guests from other countries, we had a chance to analyze opportunities or lack of them here in Turkey.

We discussed with them activities in Turkey on the rights of the child. We learned about their experience in the same field and made comparisons. We informed them about our projects and tried to learn what they thought of them.

I don’t think that we could convey our ideas fully. It was because the environment was not so conducive to share outcomes. Still we are lucky that we hat such an opportunity. I think we could make the best out of such a short period of time and were successful. I think we were able to find answers to some basic questions like the following:

What can we do about water issues? - What are the conditions for utilizing water? - What are our water-related expectations from adults? - What is the nature of water problems in various countries?

I can say that adults are sensitive about the importance of water for our lives in future.

Günalp Çakir from the Kırklareli Child Rights Committee (16), National Coordinator of Children’s Network

We have witnessed two forums within a week. While considering ourselves just participants, we happened to be the group chair in the “3rd CHILDREN’S WATER FORUM.”  Throughout the forum we were striving to produce something together with children from different places. I think we made it. From those who were so complacent to say “water? 50 gallons of it will be ready when I just call for it” to others saying “we are desperately in need of it” all agreed on one point: “WATER IS LIFE!!!”
The Declaration appearing after 2 days was a proof of it.

The environment in the children’s forum was warm. Despite some problems in communication I could read the same from the eyes of participants: “Water resources are being depleted day by day, the world must say ‘stop’ to this!”  During the forum, we could have contacts with children from 21 different countries. I think we had particularly good and intimate talks with the Japanese delegation. During our stand-centered work at the opening and onwards we had a chance to give information to Japanese committee members, officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, UNICEF National Committee, “Young Life Foundation”, many citizens and foreign guests.   I think we were able to inform them satisfactorily about our activities on child rights. It was the most pleasing aspect of this forum for me to see that a sapling planted 10 years ago is now branching out and standing to fruit enough for all.

Of course, it was also pleasing that we, as children, could play our part in such a large organization. 

Beste Pala from the İstanbul Child Rights Committee (17)

It was quite pleasing to take part in such an important gathering. In group work, we conveyed our knowledge and experience to others.

We met with our sensitive peers from other countries. We shared our opinions. Coming together with representatives from other countries, we informed them about our activities and accomplishments. We listened to theirs. It was really a success.

 It was a nice and different experience for us and, I am sure, for children from other countries as well. We listened to and got to know each other, exchanged information and experience.

 

 

 

 

Children's declaration

Download the Children's Declaration from the 5th World Water Forum


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