Youth Voices

AYDL Youth Project: A Transformative Initiative Changes Lives

AYDL projects elevates youths from grass to grace

A –four-member Abim Youth Forum three years ago were walloping in poverty and would pass as bystanders in the ongoing of the country.

Joseph Nakasamba, Lamek Musoke, Calvin Owili and Alfred Ogwang lived and resigned to their humble lives in north eastern district of Abim thinking it was cool to be poor and not to participate in affairs of the state.

The group are part of the over 75 youth population who constitute the biggest population of Ugandans grappling with poverty, high levels of unemployment, disintegration, ignorant about their rights and responsibilities.

As awake up initiative, the African Youth Development Link (AYDL) started a programme; Strengthening Youth Participation in Local and National Governance in 2016.

The three-year project (2016-2018), was designed to empower and strengthen youth engagement in districts of Abim and Pader but has an advocacy component at the national level.

AYDL under this project set out to still enhance the capacity of youth leaders, enhance the civic responsibility of female youth, and strengthen platforms for voice and accountability including youth parliaments and dialogues.

The project also sought to strengthen coordination at the district level of youth programs through the District Sector Working Groups and influencing key processes including the national budget and engage in dialogue on oil and gas.

Joseph Nakasamba, Lamek Musoke, Calvin Owili and Alfred Ogwang were part of the first lucky 86 youth (26) female and (60) male , to be trained on attitude change and transformative leadership by AYDL.

The training was premised on inculcating positive attitude among youth leaders, to make them effective champions of change in society.

After the training, the youth group realized they had been seated on gold in cassava group. They acquired eighty acres of land in Abim, mobilised seven hundred and fifty that they used to plough the land and planted the cassava.

Because Abim has many cattle, the youth received beehives from Arid Land Development, a local civil society organization, that they erected around the garden to scare away animals.

“We want to act as an example to rest of the youth in the district that even without receiving loan from government, they can find means of making their lives better and create impact in the community,” Musoke said.

Musoke said that they earlier turned down Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) funds because of conditions attached. To receive the government money, they had to increase their number to 15.

The group is just an iceberg of the many that have benefited from the Strengthening Youth Participation in Local and National Governance project.

‘Leg Kwo’, group, which means ‘seek for help’, is another youth group of 10 members that benefited from the project. The group manufactures Liquid soap and makes craft bags.

With the start-up of Shs7.2 million from government Youth Livelihood programme, the group has been able to transform home grown ideas to transform their lives.

Ms Joyce Akello, the secretary to the group said: “We want to serve as a role model group building local capacity for young women in the district,”

Akello said they plan to complete their loan by end of the year.

MsHannetAkech, is a female youth counselor in Abim district. She, however, says she suffered inferiority complex and that disabled her to move motions in council meetings. But after the project gave her training, she has so far moved two motions; one of them being a motion to investigate the mismanagement of Shs150million by the Chief Finance Officer and the Finance assistant. The two officials have since been interdicted.

For Suzan Akello, the training has inspired her to start catering business. With just Shs500000, offered by her husband, Akello now runs a business where she saves Shs10, 000 a day.

In 2017, still the project wrote a youth position on the proposed Constitutional amendment which proposed to scrap off age limit in the constitution both young and old to contest for elective position.

The position paper was generated to inform the consultations by the youth MPs and the committee on legal and parliamentary affairs committee.

This was reache during a consultative meeting on the proposed age limit amendment of article 102b, AYDL and other members of the Youth Coalition on Electoral Democracy in Uganda, including Interparty Youth Platform, Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs, Uganda Youth Network, and Open Space Center organised the forum.

The meeting brought together 147 participants including 43 female and 104 male drawn from CSOs, Youth MPs, National Youth Council, District Youth Councils, Youth across all political parties.

Project empowers rural youth take center stage in development

Since the year 2011, the youth in Northern Uganda have taken it upon themselves to influence policy change in their areas of residence. Thanks to African Youth Development Link (AYDL).

The youth focused not for profit organization with its head offices in Ntinda-Kampala, AYDL, envisions, “An empowered youth movement building better lives for young people through their engagement in development and governance processes”

As such, through its partnerships with generous Swedish funders of Diakonia (a Swedish faith based organization) and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), has managed to empower and change the lives of many youths.

For example, with a target youth in and out of school between 15 – 30 years, The Youth Voices project, one of those implemented by AYDL,led to the institutionalization of several youth programs in the beneficiary districts. The project focuses on the youth participation in democracy and governance.

Through the support of various project partners, a one stop youth information resource centre in Abim with support from War Child Holland has been established uner The Youth Voices project.

The center has been equipped with computers, laptops, a standby generator and internet which will offer trainings in ICTs and low cost printing and stationery as income for maintenance of the facility.

In the same way, negotiations between youth councilors, the district leadership and War Child UK have been stepped up by AYDL to replicate the same initiative in another Ugandan Northern district of Pader

Through the youth voice project, the youths in Abim district have also influenced a council resolution to bar students from schools outside the district from registering and competing for district Quota System with the indigenous students.

The district quota system introduced in 2004 admits bright students from under privileged schools in remote districts to public Universities with preference given to students who sat advanced level in their home districts.

The quota system was however, abused in the past as some students from other disticts fraudulently got admitted at the expense of the indigenous ones.

Still, the youth influenced the establishment of an independent committee chaired by the District Education Officer (DEO)to streamline the award of State House scholarships in the district.

Under the same project, AYDL has also partnered with War Child UK , an international NGO which empowers children and young people in conflict areas , to start a sports league in Pader district and helps to facilitate teams with uniforms, balls and trophies.

Similarly, In Abim district, the youth have also benefited from a district sponsored annual OmwonyOjok memorial football and netball cup which is competed for among sub counties commemorating the lifetime achievements of the late Hon. OmwonyOjok to the district and nation building.