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.
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
The 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.
However, the youth in Uganda share a disproportionate burden of the difficult circumstances that people experience such as poverty, unemployment, diseases and UN unmarketable skills, limited participation in processes affecting them. This is partially because of the limited opportunities for practical skills acquisition and viable employment.
Issues related to Sexual Reproductive Health of adolescents continue to affect the youth. These include among others, Sexual violence, unsafe abortion, high teenage pregnancy, socio-cultural norms (low school attendance and high drop-out rates for girls), lack of comprehensive sexuality education both in schools and communities, low coverage of youth friendly services at health facilities, early marriage and early child bearing. All these force girls into early sexual relationships and predispose the youth people to HIV/AIDS.
In view of the Sexual Reproductive Health of the youth, 58% of women 18‐24 had sex before age 18, 47% of men 18‐24 had sex before age18, About 24 percent of women aged 15-19 in Uganda are already mothers or pregnant with their first child (UDHS 2011) this explains the high teenage pregnancy rates in the country which is among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa and significantly contributes to overall Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and affects the socio-economic status of the mother, and child. 20 women in Uganda die daily due to pregnancy related complications and 44% of them are young mothers aged 15-24. The other SRH indicators are the low Contraceptive Prevalence Rates of 30 percent in 2011 and the Total fertility rate of 6.2 in 2011 (UDHS 2011). The causes of high fertility include low levels of education, poor access to family planning services with unmet demand estimated at 41 per cent.
In order to overcome such circumstances, investment in youth is essential to achieving sustainable human development. A multi-sectorial approach for increased investment is required for diverse impact on the overall Agenda.
Thus, Investing in young people makes economic sense. It is also obvious the youth have led the world in important sectors of the economy. They are key constituents of human resource, consumers, innovators, workers, entrepreneurs, recyclers, producers and leaders right now – and in the future.
Uganda currently has the second youngest population in the world after Niger (83%), with over 26.7 million (78% -children and youthaged below 30 years) out of the approximately 34.9 millionpeople in Uganda. The youth population (18-30 years) currently constitutes a significant proportion of the total population (21.3%). According to the National Labour Force and Child Activities Survey 2011/12, the population of youth in the labour force is estimated at 4.4 million people. Out of the 12 million people in labour force, 51% are females while 49% are males. About 3.5 million (or 80%) were rural based. The biggest proportion of this youth labour force was unemployed/underemployed.
The vast majority of employed youth live in rural areas and they are mainly engaged in agriculture (70%). The informal sector has the highest proportion of employed youth with 19 out of 20 employed youth. Self-employment is the most important form of youth employment, 57% of youth are in self-employment (52.4% male and 61.4% female) as compared to 24% in wage employment (30.5% male and 17.7% female). Under-employment among the youth is at 4% while 23% of youth aged 18-30years work in areas where their skills are greater than the required job skills. About 13% of the youth are under-employed in part-time jobs.
The Government of Uganda is cognizant of the needs of the youth. To this end, it has developed a set of actions in terms of development policies, action plans and guidelines that are designed to help guide investment in youth development. Other key interventions together with support from our Development Partners are in place; Entrepreneurship Skills Development, Sexual Reproductive Health and improving Youth Livelihood, employment creation, but there is still low investment in the areas affecting the young people.
Government has demonstrated commitment towards investing in youth development through partnerships and programmes(like the Youth Livelihood Programme, Youth Entrepreneurship Venture Capital Fund, Labour Market Information System, Green Jobs, Youth Entrepreneurship Facility, Sexual Reproductive Health, Child helpline Call Centre 116, Skilling Uganda,UPE and USE, Operation Wealth Creation, ICT development under NITA, Community Driven Development)but there is still limited uptake of programmes. This is attributed to lack of appropriate and recognized skills, lack of development information and mind set.
At the Kampala Youth Day, there were several activities that included among others;
- Exhibitions: These were mainly organised into 3 categories namely:
- Youth Innovations Hub which showcased some of the unique and innovative enterprises and livelihood initiatives that have been supported by government programmes like Youth Livelihood programme, CDD e.t.c The exhibitors shared their success stories and testimonies related to the enterprises there are currently running. This provided an opportunity to the youth entrepreneurs to market & sells their products and services.
- Youth Friendly Centre – This was a one stop centre for Youth Friendly services including voluntary counselling and testing, Reproductive Health clinics and centre for information exchange.
- Youth CSOs & Initiatives – There were various NGOs and Civil Society Organisations that are providing services to the youth in the city. These displayed and shared information on their project models, success stories with youth and resource materials in areas such as livelihoods, governance and reproductive health amongst young people
- Private Sector Companies – There were a number of private sector companies that are making outstanding contribution to Youth development in the city. They used this opportunity to also display their products and services and interest youth to utilise their products and services
- Mobile ICT camp – The exhibitors in this section showcased the critical role ICT contributes towards youth development. Activities herein included short trainings in basic ICT, mentorship on job application process, registration and counselling of job seekers.
There was also a Youth Engagement Forum organized by the Uganda Youth Network that was aimed at providing an opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss importance of being involved in civic engagement activities, and share ideas on how to engage at the economic, political and social level. Further still, there was an Employment Forum which provided an intimate sharing and reflection platform around business start-ups and entrepreneurship to many youth at the event. This is intended to provide the young people inspiration, ideas and much needed momentum to kick start their entrepreneurship and self-employment ventures.
To crown it all, there was Entertainment as big names in the Ugandan music industry took on to the stage to entertain the revelers: This also included Art, Music & Dance space. The space showcased the unique talents of young people and at the same time provided entertainment to participants.
This event was officially closed by the Kampala city council Authority Executive Director Ms Jennifer Musisi who called for an investment in the youth and reffirmed KCCA’s commitiment in improving the lives of youth in the city. She appended her signature pledging to support the implementation of the National Youth Manifesto 2016-202. The Youth Manifesto 2016-2021 presents a set of 5 key demands as a basis for engagement and demand for and with political leaders seeking power and as well as individuals seeking elective positions in the forth coming elections as ‘A social contract ‘ with the youth of Uganda.