The programme, which is managed by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, with districts and lower governments as implementers, is meant to work closely with the youth
By Paul Rukundo Rwabihurwa
Youth livelihood programme (YLP) is a five year government development programme that started in 2013, ending in 2018 targeting poor and unemployed youth to harness their social-economic potential and increase self-employment opportunities and income levels with a budget of 265 billion Uganda shillings.
The project was meant to support the youth in form of a revolving fund for skills development and income generating projects.
The programme, which is managed by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, with districts and lower governments as implementers, is meant to work closely with the youth to ensure that they realise sustainable income that will help them to survive in this competitive world.
The singular evaluation report from the ministry claims that over 83,000 youth have benefited from this programme in the three years of operation though the targeted youth population was 148,824 creating a difference of 65,824 which constitutes about 44% of the initial target.
It goes ahead and shades more light on how 1,635 projects were funded with sh11.9b in 27 districts of Uganda in phase 1 and 534 projects funded with sh3.5b in 85 districts in phase II respectively.
50% of projects proposed and funded are agricultural in nature a clear manifestation that youth have passion in the sector, 20% trade, services 8%, industry 8% and ICT 8%.
However, on the sh11.9b disbursed in the phase 1, only 50million was recovered by the ministry meaning that almost 96% of 1,635 projects are not productive.
The question here is, has the Government designed a Theory of Change (TOT) to save the situation?
Recently, the Ministry of Gender produced a report: "Status of Problematic Youth Projects". This report cited a number of youth ventures where a lot of money has been misused.
For instance, Namutumba and Apac districts authorities are failing to recover about sh220m and sh354m disbursed to youth groups respectively.
What does this mean to a youth group in Nyeibingo Kebisoni, Rukungiri called Nyamubogore Boda Boda Riders, that applied for similar loan in October 2016 and they have not been considered? Are they ready to pursue the business?
Will they be like a group in in Kotido reported on by the press which had a dream of having personal businesses and become rich in 10 years of brick laying, which was cut short after some of their group leaders misused the money in drinking alcohol! How is the Youth Livelihood Programme dealing with corporate governance issues of these youth groups?
What level of entrepreneurial and management skills are imparted to youth groups? How regular and consistent are mentoring programmes?
Of course we cannot entirely blame the poor implementation policies by the Government, but also the misrepresentation of facts by unscrupulous politicians who intentionally tell young people that the programme is another presidential handshake for supporting and voting National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government back to power in the 2016 elections.
I have always wondered why a programme of the same design can work in a certain ministry and fail in another in the same Government. We need to benchmark from different entities both the Government and private sector on implementation strategies.
We have Agriculture Credit Facility (ACF) which was introduced in 2009 with a budget of sh119b and its moving on steadily though there's need to extend its services to the grassroots farmers.
Being a youth leader in my district, I have mobilised several youth groups and organised workshops for them (youth) to interact with programme coordinators both at sub county and district level.
These trainings have not yielded fruitful results simply because they are more theoretical and there is less concentration on Project Proposal Assessment (PPA).
For this project to be replenished and revamped, there must be entrepreneurship trainings, contemplate the proposals and find out things like concrete value proposition, rate of return, payback period and present and future value.
All this knowledge will help our young people to venture in businesses that will help them pay the loan in time and possibly earn some sustainable income.
At the Agency for transformation, we are working with youth and farmers in Wakiso district to evaluate both Youth Livelihood Programme and operation wealth creation - we hope our report will lead to important tweaks that will make these programmes stronger - to deliver more jobs and incomes for millions.
Since there is clear evidence that young people are interested in practicing agriculture, Government and Civil society organisations should come up with a well-studied mechanism of helping these young people to excel in their agribusinesses.
Ideas of commercial farming, value addition should be very well addressed and more support in terms of finances, monitoring, evaluation and guidance be extended to these young people.
This will not only improve on their standards of living but it will also enlighten and empower them with the knowledge and expertise to mushroom the sector.
The writer is a policy advocacy officer with the Agency for Transf