KAMPALA — Members of Parliament are optimistic that the Parish Development Model (PDM)—if well implemented—is a masterstroke that will help government to beat unemployment among the youth.
Under the parish development model, the government has recently set up structures and frameworks for planning, budgeting and delivery of public services.
People at the parish level, majority are youth, to decide development priorities under the policies formulated at the national level.
The assumption is that by getting citizens at the lowest administrative levels to identify and assign resources for their own social needs, development can tilt in favour of the poor. The overall aim, according to the plan, is to deepen the decentralisation process, improve household incomes, and increase accountability at local levels.
Speaking at a post budget fire place discussion organised by the National Youth Advocacy Platform (NYAP) and Community Integrated Development Initiatives (CIDI) at Grand Global Hotel in Kampala, Javira Ssemwanga, the MP for Buyamba County urged the youth to take advantage of available government programmes such as PDM to empower themselves economically.
“The PDM is targeting the young people and if they are willing to tap into opportunities it presents, I think they will benefit from it,” MP Ssemwanga said adding that:
“When you look at the value chain, the amount of money we have allocated to Agro precessing, the young people stand a big chance to benefit”.
Edison Rugumayo, the national youth member of Parliament says people should not get biased with the different programmes that include Youth livelihood, Emyooga program, Parish model scheme among others but should see how they merge as a benefit to reach every Ugandan.
Sadat Zziwa, the chairperson National Youth Advocacy Platform (NYAP) in Uganda said that the fire place discussion sought to localize the agenda by enabling the young people get involved in the budget discussions regardless of the tittles they hold in society.
“We are here to discuss issues of the budget and understand the different opportunities that the national budget presents to the young Ugandans, Zziwa said, adding that:
“we all know that there’s the PDM, one way that will help Ugandans for the first time ever to directly benefit from the budget”.
The other parts of the budget discussed include tourism, security and reproductive health and how the young people can tap into the opportunities such areas presents them.
On her part, Hellen Kasujja, the Deputy Executive Director CIDI, highlighted the need to streamline PDM guidelines on how the young people are going to be able to benefit from the much sought-after programme.
“It is very clear that there’s lack of clarity on how the young people can actually tap into PDM because they feel they’re part of entire group of society that is within a Parish arrangement and there’s no money that is specifically looking at them,” Ms. Kasujja said.
The World Bank estimates that as of April 2019, Uganda was one of the countries with the highest youth unemployment rates (13.3 percent) among countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 75 percent of the country’s population aged below 30.
A joint report released in 2018 by the United Nations Population Fund and Uganda’s government reported youth unemployment at 64 percent, with most of them depending on their parents to sustain their livelihoods.
The report emphasized the need for increased public expenditure on youth programs to reduce the high dependency ratio.
These findings are similar to a 2014 report by the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE). According to the think tank, youth unemployment stood between 65 percent and 70 percent with many youths failing to fulfill their full potential and remaining unemployed or underemployed.
The report found that close to a third of qualified youth could not secure jobs. The statistics have since been worsened by the after effects of COVID-19.
Uganda’s government launched the Youth Livelihood Programme in January 2014 to create self employment opportunities and empower the youth. The programme, under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, was initially set out to roll out UGX 265 Billion over a period of 5 years to establish income generating activities for poor and unemployed youth.