Uganda: Youth petition govt on sexual and reproductive health issues

By Agnes Kyotalengerire

The dialogue attracted youths from districts of Kabale, Soroti, Kisoro, Serere and Dokolo.

Youth participants during the intergeneration dialogue (Photo by Agnes Kyotalengerire)

Youth have petitioned government to publish the adolescent client’s charter and make it accessible in 53 gazetted languages spoken in Uganda.

The charter specifies that adolescents have demarcated spaces to access information on sexual and reproductive health from the right people and to protect it .

The same charter includes the kind of care young people need, be treated with dignity and respect and give feedback about health services among others.

Presenting the petition, Catherine Kyomuhendo who is the chairman youth Kabale urged government to improve access to life skills/ sexuality education, youth friendly health services and provide appropriate training for the service providers handling adolescents.

Deputy Head of mission cooperation at the Netherlands Embassy, Joris; Van-Bommel (Photo by Agnes Kyotalengerire)

This was during an intergenerational dialogue organised by Amref Health Africa-Uganda at Kabira Country club on Monday.

The dialogue attracted youths from districts of Kabale, Soroti, Kisoro, Serere and Dokolo. Other participants were: members of Parliament (Mps), health workers, development partners, civil society organizations and Ministry of Health officials.

Amref Health Africa Head of programmes, Dr. Patrick Kagurusi said the dialogue was mainly to enable the participants to interact and share needs to the productive need of young people.

The Deputy Head of Mission/Cooperation at the Netherlands Embassy Joris; Van Bommel commended the organisers because the dialogue addressed patent sexual reproductive health issues concerning the youth since they are the future.

Bommel said his government will increase support to Uganda on sexual and reproductive health services.

The youth also demanded for their participation in policy making processes up to the grass root as the urban and rural youth seem to have different perceptions regarding sexual reproductive health and rights services.

In addition, they called for equal and quality services of sexual reproductive health for youth living with disabilities.

“It is so hard for PWDs to access family planning commodities and information in health facilities. Often, health workers have negative attitude towards us when we go to seek health services.

For instance, they put a pregnant person to explain why she chose so and who is responsible” Victoria Nalule who the executive director of Tunaweza Foundation, a non-governmental organization that empowers young people with disabilities.

Additionally, Dr. Kagurusi noted with concern that most of the time when young people go for SRH services in health facilities they are turned away this is because some of the health workers do not have the skills to handle the youth.

The 2016 Uganda Health Demographic and Health Survey indicate that teenage pregnancy stands at 25% and it is considered as one of the highest in Africa. This means that one in every four girls aged 15–19 years in Uganda is pregnant or already given birth.

Dr.livingstone Makanga addressing participants. (Photo by Agnes Kyotalengerire)

Highlighting the need for adolescents and youth to access sexual and reproductive health commodities, Dr. Livingstone Makanga who is the principle medical officer, reproductive health division at the Ministry of Health estimated that at least 23% of adolescents are sexually active by 15years. 13% of 15-19 years old, reportedly engage in cross generational sex.

Data from the situation of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Uganda report estimates the contraceptive prevalence rate among adolescents aged 15-19 years to be at 11%.

Dr. Makanga said lack of contraceptive uptake among adolescents has contributed to about 28% deaths among adolescents due to pregnancy related conditions.

The 2016 Uganda Health Demographic and Health Survey showed that the number of mothers who die in Uganda while giving birth reduced to 368 deaths per 100, 000 live births.

The chairperson Parliamentary health committee, Dr. Micheal Bukenya pledged to follow up on sexual and reproductive health policy to ensure it is approved and disseminated.

Source New Vision


Equity Bank, GOAL Uganda Partner To Empower Youths Through Financial Inclusion

By Moses Kayigwa

Equity Bank (U) Ltd and the DYNAMIC (Driving Youth-led Agribusiness and Microenterprise) program in their continued quest for financial inclusion have launched a partnership to bring access to formal financial services closer to the youth through Equity Bank’s agency banking and digital finance model.

This was announced by the Equity Bank Uganda Executive Director Mr. Anthony Kituuka, Jennifer Williams Country Director, GOAL Uganda and the DYNAMIC Program Director Netsaalem Gebrie at a media conference in Kampala on Wednesday.

DYNAMIC is one of the Mastercard Foundation’s Youth Forward Initiative being implemented by a consortium partners led by GOAL Uganda, Mercy Corps, Restless Development and Voluntary Services Overseas. The program targets 125,000 youth between the age of 15-24 in Northern Uganda.

Equity Bank has already completed preparations to expand conventional and digital financial literacy trainings as well as variety of banking services to thousands of youth and other farmers in Northern Uganda in the districts of Lira, Abim, Kaboong and Agago.

“This was made possible because we share the same ideals on entrepreneurship and job creation. We are aiming at economically and socially empowering young people between 15 and 24 years in the selected districts by facilitating youth access to and usage of formal and non-formal financial services”, said Mr. Kituuka.

The partnership agreement which was signed recently will strengthen ongoing efforts of GOAL Uganda’s market systems development initiatives to creating opportunities for youth in agribusinesses and off-farm enterprises in the said four districts of northern Uganda. In addition, this will also opens up opportunity to Equity Bank o offer financial and technical advisory services to enhance the competitiveness and dynamism of young Ugandan entrepreneurs.

“The growing youth population in Uganda is a great opportunity for the country’s economic development. Creating decent and dignified employment and self-employment for this young population is our main objective in DYNMAIC program. The partnership with Equity Bank will definitely help to achieve this objective” said Jennifer Williams Country Director, GOAL Uganda.

As one of Uganda’s top lenders operating out of over 35 branches, 38 ATMs and other numerous e-channels, this is in tandem with Equity Banks’ unique solutions to supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs to building sustainable businesses. The Bank will train and strengthen the capacity and understanding of financial management, financial planning, budgeting, customer care practices and bookkeeping agents and their staff and on a broader perspective the Community Groups and the Youth Development Groups in the areas served by its agents.

Equity Bank is one of the fastest growing banks in Uganda and most recently rolled out agency banking services. The bank currently has a network of more than 2000 agents that have been recruited across the country to drive financial inclusion and offer innovative, inclusive customer-focused financial services.

Source The Tower Post

Beauty Queens Inspiring Young People In Uganda

By Jacky Achan

Having the beauty Queens share their stories is powerful in shaping the lives of other young people who look up to them.

“Your life is your responsibility, no one has the right to belittle or intimidate you unless you let them, they don’t deserve that privilege,” reigning Miss World Africa Quinn Adenakyo on Friday in Kampala encouraged a group of youths.

The Miss Uganda Foundation together with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has embarked on a campaign to have young people, especially girls, interact with their Miss Uganda role models, draw inspiration and also reach their dreams.

Adenakyo was joined by Miss Uganda 2016/17 Leah Kagasa and Miss Uganda 2012/13 Phiona Bizza in Sharing their personal stories with curios and adoring fans equally keen to shine in their space.

Telling their stories is a question and answer session in the ‘Live Your Dream Moment’ the, Miss Uganda beauty Queens talked of how they have managed to overcome peer and social pressure to succeed.

They also spoke up on teenage pregnancies. According to the Uganda 2016 demographic and health survey, 25% of girls age 15 to 19 either have a child or are pregnant.

Adenakyo who is the reigning Miss World Africa said teenage pregnancies are stopping girls from reaching their full potential.

Kagasa disclosed how teenage pregnancies affected members of her family including cousins and aunties. She said young people need to be grounded in their beliefs to achieve their goals.

“Do not turn to drugs and alcohol to relieve life pressures, turn to a reliable support system, in family and friends,” she said.

UNFPA country representative Alain sibenaler says having the beauty Queens share their stories is powerful in shaping the lives of other young people who look up to them.

Miss Uganda Foundation will be moving to different parts of the country with the beauty Queens to raise awareness and fight teenage pregnancies.

Source New Vision

Are cash handouts to youths in Uganda sustainable

By Brian Sserunjogi

Over the last decade, Uganda has undergone a significant demographic structure transition. Approximately 78 per cent of the country’s population is below the age of thirty while youth aged 18 to 30 years now contribute about 23 per cent (close to eight million) of the total population. In the same light, the country’s urban population increased three-fold from 2.9 million in 2002 to 7.4 million people in 2014.

The explosive urban population has emanated out of rural-urban migration, gazetting of new urban areas as well as natural population growth. While Uganda has registered a youth population bulge in general and in urban areas in particular, the generation of employment for the surging youth population has not moved in the same direction.

Youth unemployment continues to be a challenge in Uganda. According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics, youth unemployment among 18-30 year olds increased from 12.7 per cent in FY 2012/13 to 13.3 per cent by FY 2016/17. Moreover, urban youth unemployment (9.9 per cent) among youth aged 18-30 years was higher than the national unemployment rate of 9.2 per cent by 2016/17.

Levels of underemployment, vulnerable employment are even higher than the above levels of unemployment since most youth engage in part time work even for a few hours for survival. The pace of creating new employment opportunities has lagged behind labour force growth.

Mindful of the fact that the youth comprise about 64 per cent of the total unemployed persons in the country, government embraced promotion of entrepreneurship financing and self-employment through targeted youth funds. Indeed, the current National Development Plan (NDP) and the National Youth Policy (2011) identifies entrepreneurship as a key strategy towards solving youth unemployment. As such starting with the 2011/12 national budget, government allocated Shs44.5 billion to support youth entrepreneurship promotion programmes.

In 2012/13 budget, an extra Shs3.5 billion was earmarked to support youth self-employment while in FY 2013/14, government significantly boosted youth schemes by allocating Shs265 billion over a five-year period for the Youth Livelihood programme. More recent momentum for the youth employment came in the 2018/19 budget with government committing an extra Shs66 billion for Youth Livelihood programme.

While past government structured interventions are commendable, more recent interventions in the form of ad hoc presidential financial handouts to youth groups across urban centres are likely to be unsustainable and non-transformative. As such this approach is likely to encounter the same challenges that many of its predecessors schemes met. Past evaluation of schemes such as the Uganda Youth Venture Capital Fund’s (UYVCF), Entandikwa, Prosperity for All, Youth Livelihood programme (YLP) etc reveals that these schemes faced a numerous challenges.

Key among the challenges is political influence which interfered with the operations of the scheme; corruption; inadequate implementation preparation at the local governments, poor selection of enterprises to be funded; inadequate operational funds etc; Moreover, the timing of these youth interventions has been ad hoc largely coinciding with the buildup of national general elections. As such most youth groups have viewed these schemes as political gifts exacerbating the risk of misappropriation of availed finances consequently failing the well intentioned programmes.

Besides, youth entrepreneurship schemes in Uganda have not been approached comprehensively. While successful youth schemes involve a mix of financial and non-financial support to achieve lasting impacts, youth interventions in Uganda have solely focused on financial support ignoring other non-financial support services.

A desktop scan through the operation of youth funds across other African counties reveals that Uganda has a lot to learn from other pioneer countries in youth schemes to ensure that its interventions are sustainable and transformative.

For example, the objectives of the Kenya Youth Enterprise Development Fund and Namibia Youth Credit Scheme go beyond enterprise financing to provision of business development support services (mentoring, coaching and incubation). The Umsobomvu Youth Fund in South Africa is a comprehensive program aimed at making the young people employable through vocational training and skills acquisition, enterprise finance and promotion of community service.

In contrast, the Tunisia Youth Fund was developed with the objective of linking unemployed graduates with potential employers. The major activities of the Tunisia Youth Fund are to create a database on available job opportunities and link them to unemployed youths.

I therefore envisage that although provision of adhoc financial assistance to youth groups shall continue in 2019, it is highly unlikely to be transformative. To make them transformative government needs to build strong institutional and monitoring and evaluation frameworks with measurable indicators to monitor performance of youth funds. Moreover, multiple stakeholders in form of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) need to be brought on board to ensure greater outreach and sustainability.

Lastly, government must continually eliminate the obstacles to self-employment to spur youth entrepreneurship. Challenges like unreliable and costly power, high taxation, corruption, poor road network, inadequate markets etc make it harder for small and medium enterprises to emerge and prosper.

The writer is a research fellow at the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC)

Source Eagle Online

Uganda: 360 youths acquire income-earning skills

In Summary

  • The one-year project funded by the Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL) was developed to implement interventions in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement with both the refugee population and host communities.
  • Through an integrated approach, BRAC implemented the skills development project in which the trainees completed a six-month, non-formal training in trades including bakery, electronics, tailoring, carpentry and hairdressing amongst others.

By Monitor Reporter

On Wednesday February 27, 360 youths graduated after having attained skills they can use to improve their lives and earn incomes.
This was the first cohort of the 2019 Skills Development Project, a project initiated by BRAC Uganda in partnership with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).
The one-year project funded by the Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL) was developed to implement interventions in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement with both the refugee population and host communities.

Through an integrated approach, BRAC implemented the skills development project in which the trainees completed a six-month, non-formal training in trades including bakery, electronics, tailoring, carpentry and hairdressing amongst others.

The training was conducted by YWCA at their training centres in Kiryandongo. The trainees were also taught business skills, life skills and functional literacy and numeracy. Upon successful completion, each graduate received a start-up kit which had essential tools and inputs for beginning a business in line with their chosen trade, for example sewing machines and grinding machines.

Kiryandongo LCV chairperson, UNHCR Coordinator, BRAC Country Representative, YWCA President and the ENABEL team cut the graduation cake. COURTESY PHOTO
Clementina Deng a 25-year-old refugee, and a successful graduate of the microenterprise part of the project said, “These skills are not handouts; we are carrying them with us for life, even when we return to our homes. We will be better and more productive people. This is something that will last.”

Ismail Kyepu, a local resident in Kiryandongo reiterated Deng’s point as he said, “Through the financial literacy trainings, I have learnt how to handle my money. I know the benefits of saving, and how to budget accordingly.”

Displaced persons may lose more than just their homes, they may lose access to skills, confidence and dreams. This is why, aware of the untapped potential borne by each individual and the role they play in the prosperity of their communities, BRAC decided to target the youth, women and girl’s population consisting of both refugees and host population to help them restart their lives and acquire technical and practical skills.

Given the high unemployment rates in Uganda generally, many youths and women are making their livelihoods in the informal sector which tends to be highly competitive. This intervention looks towards equipping trainees with the knowledge and skills to enhance and develop their entrepreneurial mind-set and create awareness about entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to paid employment.

Source Daily Monitor

Uganda: We Need to Mitigate Climate Change

By Andrew Mafundo

The tragic reality is that the earth is reaching a tipping point faster than ever before and this will affect all of us.

The atmospheric temperatures are expected to increase across the globe and rainfall may increase or decrease, depending on location. Ultimately, climate change will have significant negative impacts on the economy, human health, energy use, and biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The current severe heat stress and reduced air quality that we are experiencing is an alarm bell for everyone to engage in the climate change fight. Since Uganda is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, it is believed that the most impact of climate change will be decreased agricultural production, leading to food shortages.

Conservationists argue that Uganda had made a positive move to sign up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and following its development of the National climate Change Policy and Implementation Strategy in 2012/13.

A road map for the development of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) was submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate Change at the beginning of 2015.

However, the full implementation of the priority adaptation and mitigation actions principally remain on paper because they are conditional on the support of international stakeholders.

The government needs to urgently review and make relevant reforms in the current climate change adaptation approach most especially building institutional capacity to conceptualize climate-compatible development projects as well as increase and manage climate finance.

The current climate change impacts and costs are expected to persist because of our past and present-day environmental decisions. We must act now to adapt and build resilience to a changing climate so that we are able to proactively manage risks, protect our health and ensure the well-being of Ugandans.

Government should prioritize and increase climate change action funding at the different levels of government. The office of NEMA focal person and local government environment task force continue to be under funded yet they are expected to oversee environmental protection activities in the entire district.

Towns and peri-urban areas seem to be more affected and forgotten. The population far exceeds the infrastructure capacity, leading to the deterioration of the urban environment. The authorities have not taken tangible action or invested in mitigation and adaptation measures.

For example, there is continuous environmental degradation and pollution in Kampala and Wakiso, which include solid waste, abattoir waste, sewage, sanitation, drainage, industrial pollution, plastic and traffic pollution, atmospheric pollution, urban agriculture, soil dumping in wetlands and land-filling, rapid and unplanned urbanization and water hyacinth.

In the past, little climate adaptation financing was directed towards the rural areas. Nevertheless, early this month, during the national celebrations to mark 2019 World Wetlands day at Limoto primary school in Pallisa district, the government, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), launched a $44.3m project.

The project is funded by the Green Climate Fund to support building resilient communities and ecosystems through restoration of wetlands and attendant catchments and will be implemented in 24 districts of eastern and southwestern Uganda.

In order to achieve sustained ecological restoration, government and implementing partners should be ready to handle challenges that face such projects, namely: lack of clarity on institutional mandates, roles and responsibilities, lack of grassroots community involvement, corruption and political interference.

The local governments in the benefitting districts need to be involved because they play a leadership role. Further policy attention should be aimed at constructive engagement in the design and implementation of programs that can receive funding and emphasize accountability for effective use of climate finance and improve the effectiveness and equitable distribution of funding for climate change adaptation in the entire country.

There is an immense opportunity to engage and empower grassroots women and youth groups to act on climate change to achieve sustainable development. They have vast knowledge and experience to fully participate in deciding climate change action especially in turning the tide on the land use.

We all have a responsibility to make better environmental choices in our own homes, at work, and on the means of travel. Without a doubt, industrialists, religious and cultural leaders, politicians, the media and business owners play a central role in the protection of environment.

It will take everybody’s involvement and contribution to tackle the scourge of climate change.

Source The Observer