The Youth Liveli­hood Pro­gramme (YLP) ought to be re­vised

By: MUSA MU­GOYA

The YLP is a Gov­ern­ment Pro­gramme be­ing im­ple­mented un­der the Min­istry of Gen­der, Labour and So­cial De­vel­op­ment since FY2013-2014. It was de­signed to re­spond to the ex­ist­ing chal­lenge of un­em­ploy­ment among the Youths.

From 2013 to date, the gov­ern­ment has in­jected about Ugx 68.42bn into the pro­gram.  In FY2013/​14, the pro­gram was al­lo­cated Ugx 2.1bn, FY2014/​15 Ugx 33.32bn, FY2015/​16 Ugx 33bn. In FY2016/​17, the pro­gram has re­ceived a vote al­lo­ca­tion of Ugx 75bn.

In FY2015/​16, the Min­istry re­ported in its Min­is­te­r­ial Pol­icy State­ment that by the end of De­cem­ber 2014 a to­tal of 2,788 pro­jects worth Ugx19.63bn had been processed and 6,181 pro­jects worth Ugx 43.62bn, by the end of De­cem­ber 2015. How­ever, the un­em­ploy­ment sta­tus quo re­mains un­shaken.

Re­cently, the Min­istry pro­duced a re­port: “Sta­tus of Prob­lem­atic Youth Pro­jects”. High­light­ing a num­ber of youth ven­tures where a lot of money have been mis­used. The me­dia has been awash with sto­ries of fraud of the fund. For in­stance, Na­mu­tumba and Apac dis­trict au­thor­i­ties are fail­ing to re­cover about Ugx 220m and Ugx 354m dis­bursed to youth groups re­spec­tively[1].

The New Vi­sion pa­per had ear­lier on re­ported the ar­rest of Youth groups lead­ers in Tororo Dis­trict lead­ers over Ugx 632m from the gov­ern­ment evolv­ing youth fund. Mr. Pius Bi­gi­r­i­mana, the sec­tor’s Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary has said that about 17 dis­tricts are most likely to miss out on the fund in the com­ing fi­nan­cial year if they fail to ac­count for the ear­lier dis­bursed funds. This is not the first time gov­ern­ment is com­ing up with such pro­jects. Only that this par­tic­u­lar one is spe­cific for the youth.

There was Agri­cul­tural Sec­tor Mod­ern­iza­tion Plan 1998-2001; En­tadikwa Scheme; and Bonaba­ga­gawale (Pros­per­ity for All). All these aimed at in­ten­si­fy­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion to in­crease house­hold in­come and im­prov­ing food se­cu­rity. How­ever, lit­tle was achieved in terms of suc­cess sto­ries.

Julius Tamale, a Youth and Re­search As­sis­tant at the Clus­ter De­vel­op­ment and In­no­va­tion Cen­tre at Mak­erere Uni­ver­sity ar­gues that the chal­lenge with the Fund was the lack of proper fea­si­bil­ity study on the vi­able pro­jects where to in­vest money. He sug­gests that the pro­ject should have tar­geted in­di­vid­ual youths to en­able them to em­ploy oth­ers be­cause not all peo­ple are en­tre­pre­neurs. How­ever, some peo­ple are not in agree­ment with this.  Hon De­nis Obua, Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Ajuli County and For­mer Youth MP for North­ern Uganda ad­vises that young peo­ple should learn to work to­gether. And that the guide­lines should be much tighter be­cause some dis­trict of­fi­cials ap­prove Ugx 10m for a Youth group only to get less of the ap­proved amount.

In light of all this, it would have been proper for both Par­lia­ment and Gov­ern­ment to first in­ter­est them­selves in the ques­tion as to why those ear­lier pro­jects col­lapsed with lit­tle mar­ginal re­sults de­spite sink­ing in a lot of money. This is be­cause there is no big dif­fer­ence be­tween this pro­gram with pre­vi­ous ones.

With­out proper mon­i­tor­ing and ac­count­abil­ity mech­a­nisms, the pro­ject is most likely to take the same route just like the ear­lier ones. There­fore, to avoid this rep­e­ti­tion, Par­lia­ment should re­con­sider re­al­lo­cat­ing the Ugx 75bn to the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of co­op­er­a­tives which has been al­lo­cated only Ugx 2bn.

The es­tab­lish­ment of a Co­op­er­a­tive Bank which re­mains an un­funded pri­or­ity with Ugx 35bn in FY2016/​17. And an ad­di­tion to the Uganda De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion to in­vest in agro-pro­cess­ing in­dus­tries to en­able the com­ple­tion of the pro­duc­tion chain in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor which em­ploy­ees the largest num­ber of youths.

This will pro­vide proper train­ing and mon­i­tor­ing of farm­ers and in­crease agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tiv­ity as well as cre­ation of more for­mal em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

[1] The Daily Mon­i­tor News Pa­per 18th April, 2016,