Young people should embrace government’s programs to fight poverty

Sam Evidence Orikunda

Uganda, a nation characterized by its youthful population, faces the dual challenges of poverty and unemployment.

With 77% of its population under the age of 30, the country’s future hinges on the active participation of young people in socio-economic development.

Government initiatives such as the Emyooga and the Parish Development Model offer critical avenues for youth engagement, promising not only personal upliftment but also national progress. It is imperative that young Ugandans embrace these programs to catalyze widespread economic transformation.

The Emyooga program, launched in 2020, is designed to provide financial support to Ugandans in the informal sector, targeting 18 specialized enterprises including boda boda riders, carpenters, and tailors. It aims to enhance the capacity of these groups to generate income, thereby reducing poverty levels.

The Parish Development Model (PDM), on the other hand, is a more holistic approach, focusing on transforming subsistence households into money-making enterprises.

By decentralizing development efforts to the parish level, the PDM ensures that resources and decision-making processes are closer to the people, fostering inclusivity and grassroots involvement.

Youth are naturally more adaptable to change and innovation. Engaging in programs like Emyooga allows young entrepreneurs to access financial resources that can transform their small businesses. This not only helps them escape the poverty trap but also stimulates local economies. Young people, with their fresh ideas and risk-taking abilities, can leverage these funds to start new ventures, create jobs, and drive economic diversification.

Participation in these programs comes with opportunities for training and skill development. For instance, the Emyooga program includes components of financial literacy and business management training. This is crucial for the youth, who often lack the necessary skills to manage and grow enterprises. By engaging with these initiatives, young Ugandans can acquire skills that are essential for sustaining long-term economic activities, thereby improving their employability and productivity.

Young people have the energy and enthusiasm needed to drive community projects. The Parish Development Model’s focus on parish-level development means that youth can be directly involved in identifying and implementing local projects. This engagement not only fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility but also ensures that development initiatives are aligned with the actual needs of the community. When young people are at the forefront of such efforts, it can lead to more sustainable and impactful outcomes.

The Emyooga and PDM programs are designed to be inclusive, targeting marginalized and underserved groups. By participating in these initiatives, young people can ensure that development efforts do not leave anyone behind. Youth engagement can bridge the gap between different social groups, fostering a more cohesive and inclusive society. Moreover, as beneficiaries of these programs, young people can advocate for their peers, ensuring that the voices of the youth are heard in development planning and implementation.

The active involvement of young people in government programs is essential for building a sustainable future. The challenges of poverty and unemployment are intergenerational issues that require long-term solutions.

By participating in programs like Emyooga and PDM, the youth can contribute to creating a foundation for sustainable economic growth. Their engagement ensures that these programs are not just short-term relief measures but are integral to the country’s development trajectory.

Despite the potential benefits, there are several barriers to youth participation in these programs. Lack of awareness, limited access to information, and bureaucratic red tape can hinder engagement. It is crucial for the government and other stakeholders to address these challenges. Simplifying application processes, enhancing outreach efforts, and providing mentorship can significantly increase youth participation.

The future of Uganda lies in the hands of its youth. Programs like Emyooga and the Parish Development Model offer valuable opportunities for young people to contribute to the fight against poverty. By engaging with these initiatives, the youth can drive innovation, enhance their skills, promote community development, champion inclusive growth, and build a sustainable future.

The author is a Deputy Resident District Commissioner, writer, and vocal Ugandan politician.

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