Youth Empowerment in Uganda: Education, Employment, Health & Wellbeing, and Community Development
Youth Empowerment in Uganda
With one of the world’s youngest populations, preparing youth for productive jobs is an urgent priority in Uganda. Despite the adoption of the National Youth Policy in 2001, job creation remains a challenge.
Through the YETA project, PCVs are supporting young people to harness their socio-economic potential. Participants receive marketable vocational skills, tool kits and financial support to establish income-generating activities.
Education is one of the most important factors in empowering youth. We work with local partners to improve early grade reading outcomes for 2.5 million Ugandan children, develop and support teachers through teacher training, build capacity of community-based learning and child protection systems in schools and communities, and provide entrepreneurship and life skills programming for vulnerable youth to help them establish sustainable livelihoods.
In Northern Uganda, many out-of-school youth are lacking the key soft and enterprise skills they need to gain employment and contribute to their local economies. To help address this, we’re working with partner organizations to develop an accelerated learning and youth entrepreneurship program.
Using NCBA CLUSA’s Learn, Engage, Build model, the program will train youth in numeracy and literacy skills and provide them with the business and entrepreneurship tools they need to succeed. We will also encourage them to apply these concepts in a mentored setting (Engage) and then provide the necessary resources and encouragement to start a small business (Build). This will increase their opportunities for earning income and establishing sustainable livelihoods.
With one of the world’s youngest populations, Uganda needs to ensure youth have a secure, productive future. This will require investment in skills training, entrepreneurship support and an enabling environment for youth businesses.
Providing vocational and employment training, skills development and job linkage services to disadvantaged young people in rural and urban areas. The program equips them with employable and entrepreneurial skills, and offers counseling and mentorship to help them build sustainable careers.
Juliet, a young mother in Mubende District, Uganda’s northern region, is one of the beneficiaries of our employment program. She learned to establish an income-generating business — a piglet incubator — with fellow members of her community and was able to earn a steady income. She also joined a Village Savings and Loan (VSLA) group that has helped her save and access loans to expand her business. Her newfound economic empowerment has given her and her children a better quality of life.
Health & Wellbeing
The youth is a critical part of any society; they are a source of innovation, creativity and energy that can propel the nation forward. However, they need the right skills and resources to thrive in their communities and realize their full potential.
Uganda’s young people face multiple challenges, including poverty, exploitation and violence, especially in the context of ongoing armed conflict, sexual and reproductive health issues, poor mental health and high prevalence of HIV. In rural areas, youth often struggle to articulate their needs and priorities. This has been addressed by using Photovoice, a community-based participatory research approach, to explore the health concerns and priorities of youth living in these areas.
For the last 16 years, DSW has reached an estimated number of 164,000 youths through its work across Uganda. It uses the Youth Truck to mobilise youths and educate them through highly participatory methods like film shows, sports, games and group discussions on topics such as adolescent SRHR information and rights, life skills education and entrepreneurship.
Community development is a vital part of youth empowerment and it involves addressing the needs of the less fortunate in society, including elderly people, widows and single mothers, and children headed families. This can be done by encouraging them to start small businesses and become self-reliant. This helps them develop a sense of responsibility and compassion for others.
YICE’s community development programs include women network for enterprise identification and development; food security and nutrition promotion; orphans and vulnerable children livelihood improvement; and Information and communication technology and youth skills training. It is also working with local communities to improve occupational safety and to promote HIV awareness.
After receiving entrepreneurship and financial literacy training from a YETA-supported youth group, Juliet Abitegeka was able to establish a business and support her family. She is now a leader of the Katwemukye Bukooba Youth Group, a 35-member organization that has diversified its income sources and has started to save money.