Govt needs to do more to help youth

Author: Joel Innocent Odokonyero. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • Therefore, as a country, irrespective of our political affiliation, social status, religion, or region, we need to employ a holistic and multi-pronged approach to addressing the plight of the youth.

The International Youth Day (IYD) was commemorated on August 12 under the theme “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages”. As we celebrated this day, one couldn’t help but wonder whether the Parish Development Model (PDM) will be the game changer for addressing the plight of youth in Uganda once and for all?

Ahead of the IYD celebration, there were momentum-building engagements on youth issues such as dialogues on their meaningful participation in the implementation of the PDM, among others.  

However, the million-dollar question is, how far can advocacy by youth and their representatives go in maintaining such pressure on government and civil society organisations (CSOs), with youth voices and priorities least catered for? What is the current state of the youth vis-à-vis the status of the PDM thus far? 

Can youth representatives and advocates go beyond just urging the government to prioritise the state of the youth in Uganda? 

These lyrics from two random songs speak volumes about the plight of the youth in Uganda, “How could something so wrong, be so right? I wish things were different but life is what it is!”.  Another one goes, “It’s not right, but it’s okay, I am gonna make it anyway”. 

Therefore, will the PDM be the missing piece of the puzzle in addressing the plight of youths in Uganda? Or is it the same mission impossible approach as the previously ad-hoc and hurriedly implemented government programmes? How far will government programmes especially youth-focused and/or related go in solving the problems of the seemingly many unmotivated and unemployed young people? How best can we involve the youth in the discussions about designing youth related and/or targeted interventions? 

From the context of conflict, transitional justice, and forced migration, for inclusivity, how do we bring to speed, the youth with diverse or multiple conditions imposed on them as a result of the effects of the numerous conflicts the country has experienced, for a level playing ground and in the spirit of leaving no one behind? Similarly, how about the youths with special needs? 

What is the role of the youth in the implementation of the PDM? How much awareness raising has thus far been done especially targeting the youth? Are the youth aware of their roles if any? 

How can we already harness the opportunity offered by the national reconciliation and peace policy in the offing as the magic bullet that can instill the spirit of patriotism in our youth and inspire them to engage and participate in development initiatives to steer the nation to a middle-income economy status? Simply put, can we start walking the talk now or never? 

The flight of youths abroad for easy jobs in the Middle East is only a temporary solution if we don’t build a strong foundation and fertile ground for youths to participate. It only goes a long way in creating more divide between the (urban) youth who have and/or can get the opportunities to participate and engage and those (rural) youths who don’t have or who can’t get. Rural-urban migration which is largely due to the unaddressed unemployment is already one of the major causes of insecurity manifested in the high rates of crimes not only in cities but in the many mushrooming towns such as—robberies, house break-ins, etc. 

Therefore, as a country, irrespective of our political affiliation, social status, religion, or region, we need to employ a holistic and multi-pronged approach to addressing the plight of the youth, with an inclusive consultative process, if we are to achieve and realize sustainable development, peace and security, and drive social-economic growth or transformation.  The time for youth peace and security (YPS) agenda is now!

Mr Joel Innocent Odokonyero, Transitional Justice Practitioner and Ethnographer
[email protected] 

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