Youth participation in decision making is hampered by limited space for meaningful engagement

Uganda has a fairly respectable legal, institutional and normative framework for youth inclusion in decision and policy making processes. Depending on the definition one considers, Uganda’s youth constitute between 65 – 75% of Uganda’s total population, with most of them living in rural areas (UBOS, 2010), however, youth inclusion and participation in decision making in Uganda remains an illusion. our    policies are often prescribed by others (government and adults) despite the fact that1995 constitution has provisions that promote active participation of youth in decision making processes (Uganda constitution,1995). 10557704_508048622658534_8434097677516446441_o

The policy development process in Uganda has largely been inclusive even though the participation of youth per se has been very selective[1]. In the last fifteen or so years, many of the youth structures collapsed[2]. Their involvement and participation in decision making thus remains largely low, and hence they are only sideline actors of programmes and services rather than as active mainstream players in the development process. Continue reading

What if exempted MPs taxes are channeled to creating jobs for youth?

 I write to add my voice to other Ugandans who expressed disappointment with members of the 9th Parliament who on Thursday 14th April 2016 shocked many when they amended the Income tax (Amendments) Bill, 2016, to exempt their benefits and allowances from being taxed.

 This move comes at a times when the country is grappling with threatening socio-economic and political challenges. As I pen this to paper, young people are pushing for five key demands highlighted in the National Youth Manifesto including Jobs, Health Care for all, education for opportunities, sports and performing arts, as well as youth participation in decision making. Rather than adding their voices to ours increasing budget allocations to create job opportunities for youth in the country, these honorable MPs went ahead to misuse their legislative powers to exempt themselves from being taxed which is really sad.

 Last Saturday, Ugandans from all walks of life gathered at a city Restaurant in Kampala in a bid to raise money for a young lady Caroline Atuhairwe 29, who apparently is battling throat and lung cancer. Caroline cannot speak and eats through a tube a condition that has attracted a pull of sympathizers who ran to her rescue. Caroline and her family have been looking for a whopping $80000 approximately UGX 250 million, to take her to a hospital in the United States for surgery and specialized cancer treatment hoping to save her life.

 It is a total shame that our MPs would make such a move at a time when young Ugandans like Caroline and others are fighting for their lives because they cannot be treated at Mulago hospital also due to break down of the only cancer machine in the country.

 MPs should understand that if the president assents to this bill, the country is likely to lose about 49.2Billion additional revenue annually (close to 9 Million per MP per month). If this money was generated, it can help government to address some of the most critical and very pressing national issues including increasing job opportunities for the youth who are largely unemployed. If mobilized, the money MPs are seeking to be exempted from could be channeled to Youth Livelihood Program.

 If this programme is boosted with an additional investment of 49.2 Billion, the program will able to create more 240000 jobs just like it did in its first year of operation.

Similarly under the Student Loan Scheme being piloted currently, with just an investment of 10Billion, 1000 students have been able to access higher education. With 49.2 Billion if inoculated into the program, the number of student beneficiaries will go up to over 4000

 Furthermore through the newly proposed National Youth Service Program with just an investment of 49.2Billion if injected into the Program, over 2500 youth will be able to acquire on job experience and training required to compete favorably in the job market with each taking an allowance of about 1 Million for 6 months period.

 In light of the above MPs hence need to be reminded that majority of citizens in Uganda who are tax payers are young people and are already over stretched with the unemployment burden. A move to channel their untaxed emoluments into solving youth unemployment in the country will turn them heroes in the eyes of the largest voting population in the country, the youth. Thus, let the MPs rethink this move for the sake of our young people and focus their energies on generating solutions that will see the youth employed. However, the move to exempt themselves from paying taxes will only worsen the social classes in the country that is exacerbated by youth unemployment in the country.

Involve rural youth in agriculture

More than 80 per cent of Uganda’s labour force is in agriculture. However, youth engagement in the sector remains low even with high unemployment, a factor often backed up with a common perception that youth dislike agriculture, and do not see it as a viable venture. Whereas that may be partly true, the sector faces an uphill battle in its quest to modernise.

Though agriculture is said to be the backbone of Uganda’s economy, there is little investment in the sector. Farmers still practice rudimentary farming methods, use outdated tools and equipment. The youth, especially those who may want to engage in farming, have limited access to land, lack financial services to counter agricultural risks in addition to having limited access to post-harvest information.
While the government has extensively applied a range of policies to promote agriculture, many of the policies and strategies have failed to reflect the needs of youth. Consultations are often held in urban centres, which often exclude uneducated, rural and poor youth. There is also lack of comprehensive data on rural youth as a distinct group, resulting in policies that do not respond to the real challenges faced by the rural youth.

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KAMPALA YOUTH DAY 2015 DRUMS UP SSUPPORT FOR INVESTING IN YOUNG PEOPLE!

Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th of October 2015, Railways grounds along Jinja road has been abuzz with entertainment and celebrations as KCCA and partners held a Kampala youth Day. Youth from across city suburbs came in large numbers to be part of this maiden event expected to be held annually according to KCCA officials. Unlike the International Youth Day (IYD) which is commemorated every year on 12 August with the aim of promoting investment in youth development and drawing commitment to the youth for improved livelihood, the Kampala is an extension of this. It is aimed at encouraging stakeholders to promote civic engagement and participation of youth in management so that young people understand their stake in national development.CRL6nKNWUAAQUsY

The international Youth Day is celebrated to recognize efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. This year’s National celebrations were held at Katakwi High School, Usuk County in Katakwi District and brought together development partners, government leaders, community and religious leaders, young people from across the country to showcase and celebrate youth development.

Whereas, the theme for International Youth Day 2015 was anchored on the theme “Youth Civic Engagement”, the government of Uganda celebrated the IYD under the theme: “We are the Investment Choices we make: Youth Matter”. The choice of the theme was inspired by the importance attached to the young people in the development process of the country. Investment in youth makes social, economic and political sense and is crucial for human capital development and social capital cohesion. Through a one on one interaction with commissioner for youth and children at the MoGLSD Mr. Mondo Kyateka, he emphasized that the youth is number one investment choice. “A country’s status depends on the quality of her youth which is determined by the investments we make in them”. He further noted that the development of the skills inherent in human and social capital must be life-cycle process which require deliberate, calculated and purposeful transformational targeted requisite development ethos. Investing in Early Childhood Development (ECD) strategies therefore is more effective than treatment programs. Whether in terms of education,health, or livelihood, the achievements of one stage are an input into the process of the next stage. There is thus a need for investment in ECD for high returns. Said Mr. Kyateka

CRMLMOpWUAAopolThe government of Uganda has identified sectors with great potential growth and has prioritized Agriculture, Tourism, infrastructure Development, Mineral, Oil and Gas, Infrastructure Development and Human Capital Development for large impact growth.Human capital development remains a major concern for our investment especially for the young people, despite investments in health, education and sports, skills development and ICT, the country has not attained a strong human capital base necessary to accelerate wealth creation and employment while enhancing competitiveness. Continue reading

INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY COMMEMORATED IN KATAKWI DISTRICT

Every August 12 each year, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Youth Day (IYD). The Day is celebrated to recognize efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It aims to promote ways in which to engage youth to become more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

This year’s National celebrations were held at Katakwi High School, Usuk County in Katakwi DistriDSC_0135ct and brought together development partners, government leaders, community and religious leaders, young people from across the country to showcase and celebrate youth development. To celebrate this date, there were several activities organized, among them; free Hiv/Aids testing, free male circumcision, productive works, a cultural gala by the Ugandan police, and concert with leading artists from Teso sub region.

Although, the international theme for this year was: “Youth civic engagement,” the Government of Uganda chose “We are the investment choices we make: youth matter as the National theme. The choice of the theme was inspired by the importance attached to the young people in the development process according to Mr. Mondo Kyateka, the commissioner for youth and children in the ministry of Gender, labor and social development. “Investment in youth makes social, economic and political sense and is crucial for human capital development and social capital cohesion” said Mondo.

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Uganda police choir Katakwi entertains the guests Photo by UNFPA

August 12, 1999 was declared as International Youth Day by the UN General Assembly. According to UN statistics, about 18 percent of the world’s population is composed of young people between 15 and 24 years old, more than 200 million of them live in poverty, about 130 million are illiterate, nearly 74 million are unemployed, and some 10 million are living with HIV/AIDS whilst many girls and young women continue to face violence and discrimination.

Uganda has a population of 34.9 million according to the provisional 2014 national census statistics out of which, 78% are below the age of 30 years. According to statistics from the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, around 400,000 youth are annually released into the job market to compete for about 90,000 available jobs, creating a job deficit of 310,000 annually. Youth unemployment in Uganda stands between 64% and 70% with about 30% of the youths who are institutionally qualified in Uganda unable to find jobs. The situation is even worse for semiskilled and unskilled youths in the informal sector. In spite of government’s remedial response through strategies such as youth grants through agricultural programmes like ‘Entandikwa’, NAADs (National Agricultural Advisory Service) and Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), youth unemployment challenge continues to loom large. Continue reading

Youth and Climate change:The Health Burden of Climate Change, a case of Kenya

By: Vaida Odongo Guest contributor

 Studies have shown that climate change accounts for losses of up to four billion Dollars globally every year. It has resulted in rising sea levels, reduced rainfall, low underground water levels and thinning of the ozone layer which protects us from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. Climate change has been identified as the biggest challenge to the health of the world’s occupants in the twenty first century. Studies show that there exists a relationship between climate change and its effects on the health of human beings.11330015_981890535184739_6695828970971879869_n

Africa is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change because most of our investments are those that deal directly with resources. Our agriculture is rain fed and should that fail, we turn to irrigation. We also directly depend on hydro-electric power further putting a strain on our resources. Resource scarcity is a direct impact of climate change and has been found to have a profound effect on the health of the population. Rising earth temperatures means that more rivers are drying up and the underground water levels are also lowering which greatly affects communities living in these areas forcing them to come up with alternative sources of livelihood and survival.

In Kenya, the effects of climate change can be easily seen because of the frequent droughts that hit the Arid and Semi Arid areas. Eighty three percent of Kenya’s land is made up of ASALs with the main source of livelihood coming from animals and animal products. The communities living in these areas are extremely vulnerable and have less capacity to cope with environmental shocks. Continue reading

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE SIGING OF THE PROTOCOL OF THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE

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The summit of the Democratic Alliance convenes at Eureka Hotel in Ntinda, Kampala. Photo by Ivan Okuda

Fellow Ugandans Members of the press Introduction

We are delighted to address to you this morning. At this moment, the country is aware that leaders of political parties, pro-democracy pressure groups and eminent Ugandan citizens met on June 4-7, 2015 at Katomi Kingdom Resort. The purpose of the consultation was to agree on a grand political alliance that will shape the future of governance and development in our country. The Consultation follows a series of informal consultations held over the last two months, which enabled us to identify and agree on the goals and details of the alliance. The purpose of inviting you here this morning is to brief you on the details and conclusions from the consultation process.

 Background

 As you are aware, the entire country has been involved in a major campaign to demand for the reform of our electoral system. The goal of this Campaign is to ensure the establishment of a credible electoral management system for our country and create the necessary conditions for free and fair elections. A Free and fair election is a promise of our constitution. However, the Museveni regime has betrayed that promise and remains obstinate in refusing to undertake the desired citizens reforms as proposed by the citizens through the Citizens Compact on Free and Fair Elections.

Indeed, in spite of the consistent calls to reform our distorted electoral management system towards and after 2011 general elections, and after five years of running government, the regime is now scampering and stampeding our parliament with last minute proposed reforms that do not meet the aspirations of Ugandans. So far, the incumbent government shows no commitment to honor the reforms proposed and favored by the citizens as outlined in the Citizens Compact on Free and Fair Elections and other proposed reforms advanced by other interest groups. The arrogance with which the incumbent regime treats citizens’ opinion has reached its highest limits and we will spare no effort in working all Ugandans and other democracy seeking forces in stopping such arrogance.

 Formation of The Democratic Alliance

We have resolved to form ourselves into The Democratic Alliance (TDA). The main goal of The Democratic Alliance is to win power and form government in order to build a Uganda where there is equal opportunity and shared prosperity for all citizens. Our objectives are:

 a) To build the necessary mobilization capabilities and organizational infrastructure of the Alliance and its members in order to win powe

  1. b) To develop and present a common policy and governance agenda for electi
  2. c) Ensure the attainment of an electoral majority by fielding candidates for all electoral positions across the country.
  1. d) To field joint candidates for electoral offices as set out in the TDA Protoco
  1. e) To Constitute a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) with the purpose of implementing appropriate political and economic reforms to build a strong and durable foundation for democracy, rule of law and economic jus

Membership Continue reading