UN pledges support for policies and investments to unlock potential of youth in Uganda

Aug 12, 2014

Members of Baka Youth Group at work in their workshop in Gulu town. The group, fabricates metallic doors, frames and windows, and also provides free apprenticeship and training to other youth in the district (Photo: UNDP Uganda)

Investing in the right policies, initiatives and essential services will help unlock the potential of youth in Uganda and enable them contribute to the attainment of the national development goals.

This was the message delivered today by Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative during the national celebrations to commemorate International Youth Day.

The event, held at the Boma Grounds in Moroto district, was attended by the President of Uganda, Mr Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, several cabinet ministers, government officials, development partners, religious leaders and thousands of youth.

“No country can attain its social and economic development goals without the active participation of its youth. And while some may see the high numbers of youth as a social and political risk, we see them as catalysts and agents of economic and social transformation,” Ms Eziakonwa-Onochie explained.

Describing the national Youth Day theme,  ‘Unlocking young people’s potential for sustainable development through collective investment’ as timely, she called attention to the need to address the concerns of youth and young people in Uganda. These include, hiigh unemployment due to the low quality of education; lack of relevant skills to compete in the job market; high incidences of teenage pregnancies and early marriage as well as poor primary healthcare.

Ms Eziakonwa-Onochie observed that this requires tailored policies and programmes from government and other stakeholders in order to make a difference, and to strengthen partnerships with youth-led organisations.

She also called for the National Youth Policy and Action Plan to be implemented without further delay, and pledged the UN’s support to facilitate the process to increase support for youth development in the country.

She revealed that the UN has initiated discussion with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to support a comprehensive analysis of the vulnerabilities and human development needs of the people of Northern Uganda, including youth, to inform policy development and targetted  interventions for the region. This comes at a time when UN member states are negotiating the new Post-2015 Development Agenda, under which prioritization of investment in youth has been earmarked as essential in acheiving sustainable development.

Youth currently constitute about 78% percent of Uganda’s population, making them the single largest block of the country’s labour force.Through its Youth Engagement and Employment Convergence group, led by UNDP, the UN in Uganda has embarked on implementing the United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP) to develop initiatives aimed at creating employment for youth and increase their participation in decision making. Critical to achieving this is the ongoing support to the National Planning Authority to mainstream youth issues and concerns in the second National Development Plan expected to be completed in September this year.

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