Govt crippling youth efforts to live better

Today we are pleased to post this article written by Hon. Denis H. Obua, Youth MP for Northern Region in Uganda. The article was first published in the Monitor on November 11, 2008. As Hon. Obua writes, we can all learn from the Rwandan youth policy. – Yipe

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Govt crippling youth efforts to live better
Denis H. Obua, MP

More than anytime in the past, governments are confronted with a potent challenge to consciously develop policies and programmes, not only sensitive to youth interests but which embrace the young people as equal partners in development and decision making processes.

There have been calls for automatic, broad-based support for youth mainstreaming. Dr Fatiha Serour, the Director of Youth Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, most recently said: “Everyone in government, academia or any other institution need to understand, accept, internalise and promote youth mainstreaming as a matter of fact.” I passionately share this philosophy. The youth of this country would bid farewell to poverty and exploitation if the government unconditionally embraced these ideals. The NRM has made a few remarkable steps towards youth empowerment such as the establishment of the National Youth Council (NYC) structures. The initiative enabled millions of youth to access and exercise leadership roles in society.

However, in spite of this positive step, the youth of Uganda still remain the most marginalised of all the interest groups. Their concerns and aspirations have habitually been ignored. The only time issues of the youth are talked about is during the International Youth Day celebration, held on every August 12. The youth councils, for example, provide the best opportunity through which activities of the youth can be coordinated, but for the last four years government funding towards the National Youth Council has been miserable.

This has created apathy among youth leaders who feel betrayed by the government. Youth activities such as mobilisation of youth against HIV/Aids, drug abuse, and other socio-economic development programmes have all suffered as a result of failure to fund the NYC activities. No wonder recent reports have indicated that drug abuse, crime rate and HIV/Aids are increasing among the youth as a result of lack of coordinated intervention by the youth councils.

No doubt the youth councils’ structures remain the best channel through which the youth throughout the country can be reached.

I recently attended the inter-parliamentary relations seminar for the East African Community member states in Kigali, Rwanda and I had the opportunity to interact with youth leadership there. My observation was that issues of the youth are given top priority by the Rwandan government.

Their youth councils are one of the best supported in Africa and the Ministry of Youth Affairs is considered one of the core ministries unlike here in Uganda. But does the Rwandan government have more resources than Uganda’s? The answer is no, but issues of the youth attract top attention in Kigali. Another area where youth issues have been ignored is the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, which is responsible for youth affairs, is poorly facilitated in terms of government funding yet their role in ensuring the empowerment of young people is paramount.

The situation is made worse by the fact that this ministry is mandated to handle issues of women, the disabled, employment, occupational safety, culture, community development, children the elderly and gender.

This mandate is too broad and its implementation has led to the neglect of youth issues. The government must realise that it is a costly venture to neglect the youth as currently they are the single group that can redeem or ruin the country. Their concerns should be integrated into the national development agenda and given adequate attention.

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About yipe
Yipe an acronym for the Youth Interactive Portal for Enterprise is an organization that assists entrepreneurs to start up and manage their small businesses.

2 Responses to Govt crippling youth efforts to live better

  1. Pingback: Democratic America, Goverment and Election » Govt crippling youth efforts to live better

  2. Pingback: Kenya’s Youth Council Bill is merely a means to keep the old guard on top « Yipe log

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