Canadian company to support young innovators

By Jeff Andrew Lule, Henry Sekanjako

The program targets only young social innovators with ideas which can be develop into solutions to their community problems.

The one month program which kicked off at the Information Communication Technology (ICT) ministry is funded by the Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), a Canadian company and coordinated by Youth Equality Centre (YEC).

The program targets only young social innovators with ideas which can be develop into solutions to their community problems.

Under the program, the youth are given online training, market research and computer skills, business and leadership skills, and also trained on how to develop an idea to attract funders among others.

Pascal Ojijjo, a facilitator from the DOT, said many graduates have good ideas but lack the required skills and motivation to develop them.

He also stressed that on many occasions, graduates lack a sense of direction on what should be done unlike semi illiterate youth.

“Many educated youth never focus on one thing to develop it, and it is the reason why many fail in life. Educated youth do more than one thing and end up gaining nothing but semi illiterates succeed in what they do because they focus on one thing and give it time to grow. That is why many standout in what they do,” he said.

He also stressed that others have great ideas, but lack support to develop them.

“That’s why Government needs to set aside a special fund to always support the young social innovators. They also need to be given other business skills to manage their ideas to grow bigger,” Ojijjo noted.

He asked graduates to always pick “that one route of passion” and run it to the finishing line than taking many routes and lose all.

“At least you can always take on another route if the other fails totally. But you will never succeed if you take on many things because your energies and mind not be settled,” he said.

The YEC team leader, Ali Kaviri said 500 youth submitted their applications with their elaborate concepts but only 30 outstanding young innovators were selected for the program.

“We are limited with funds; but this shows many youth have unique ideas which can contribute to the development of the country. They only need support,” he said.

Kaviri said the youth are also taught how to persuasively pitch their ideas to get grants and source for funding.

At the end of the training, the youth will be taken for a global conference with other innovators to share ideas and network in Kenya. They will also be given a grant.

Hebert Murungi 26, from Kyenjojo,  a graduate in environmental science, said he has learnt to how to use online to look for funds to boost his biogas business.

“We are dealing in biogas but we want to make it accessible to all people. But with this training we now have an on how to do it,” he added.

Stella Tabala, 23, from Busitema University, said she innovated a wearable alert device but ended at a prototype. “Now I am going to use the digital skills to get a sponsor to support my idea into a consumable product,” he added.


Promote Sex Education To Avert Teenage Pregnancy

By Ali Kaviri
True we are living in a fast-changing
world in which attitudes towards sexuality and procreation are evolving by the day, a situation in which globally 20,000 girls below the age of 18 are reported to give birth daily, according to the State of the World Population Report 2013.

Uganda is an extremely youthful nation with 48% comprising of young people less than 15 years of age. Coupled with a higher birth rate, the country has the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Africa standing at 24%. Global studies estimate that about 70,000 adolescent girls continue to die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth whilst many who survive days of obstructed labour end up with complications like obstetrics fistulas.
 Cited causes of teenage pregnancy in Uganda are linked to early sexual exposure for girls, forced child marriages, coerced first sexual intercourse, family situations for the adolescent girls, and limited access to sexuality education and reproductive health services.

A recent study by UNFPA indicates that 49% of Ugandan girls are married off before their 18th birthday, a factor that contravenes the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda which consents marriage at the age of 18.

Other factors include inadequate life and livelihood skills especially assertive and avoidance skills, older men taking advantage of young girls, poor parenting styles and limited educative media reaching out to vulnerable communities.

Teenage pregnancy is further exacerbated by the cultural beliefs and social stigma related to teenage pregnancies in which most, if not all, schools in Uganda discontinue teenage girls from continuing with education, as soon as they establish that the girl is pregnant.

Many students also rely heavily on self-education from peers without adequate and professional guidance and counselling on sex education.

Further still, sexual and reproductive health programmes provided in some cases also tend to ignore the social, cultural and economic factors that prevent young people from making healthy decisions and that contribute to their vulnerability to poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes including exposure to HIV, sexual violence and unsafe pregnancies.

Resultantly, many adolescents end up lacking assistance in sexual decision making skills and those with limited connection to their families and schools are ensuing into increased risky sexual activities, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and even death due to maternal-related complications.

Teenage pregnancy hence has been bled by attitudes, several myths and misconceptions among teenagers as well as general complacency that surround sexuality amongst most communities in rural Uganda.

In light of this, if we are to address this hitch, there is a need to have a compressive sexual education culturally, socially and in politically acceptable ways streamlined within existing institutions such as schools, homes and churches alike.

This will begin to change the rigid mindset among adolescent gate keepers including parents, teachers, the community and religious leaders who still think sexual and reproductive information is not age appropriate for adolescents.

We also need to begin instilling in adolescents right from childhood concepts of leadership, emotional intelligence and critical thinking.

This will go a long way in empowering them in decision making processes so that they make informed and responsible life choices such as delaying sex.

Irrefutably, adolescent stage marks a critical time of development in someone’s life. It is a period of dramatic physical, cognitive, hormonal and social changes that occur in our bodies, which ultimately translates into one’s identity and personality.

Targeting them at an early stage will consequently make teenagers delay sex and child bearing as well as live healthier and productive lives to their fullest potential.

Adolescent premarital pregnancies, childbearing and teenage mortality rate is a cornerstone obstacle and a community concern and for that reason remains a major social, health, financial and economic sabotage in Uganda, which all of us must vividly fight.

The writer is a youth leader


Civil Society activists call for people-centered budget

Budget – Participants from civil society groups, academia, and ordinary Ugandans from various parts of the country have called for a more people-centered national budget.

The call was made during a conference on the 2019/2020 national budget which was organized by the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) at Hotel Africana.

Patricia Munaaba from FOWEDE expressed concern about sectors that serve majority Ugandans, like health, education, and agriculture, being allocated underfunded in the national budget.

Munaaba said it was FOWEDE that sponsored Isaac Musumba to draft and have the Budget Act passed; which she said has greatly promoted transparency in the allocation of resources in the national budget.

Munaaba argued that whereas there is transparency in the budgeting process, government needs to put more resources which can improve the lives of Ugandans.

Ali Kaviri, the team leader of Youth Equality Centre expressed disappointment that government has not done enough to undertake more practical measures for addressing the high rate of unemployment and poverty among the youth.

“The Youth Livelihood project is only benefiting a few youth who are politically connected. There is even a proposal to have State House takeover the funds, and that worries us because it will make the project more political,” Kaviri stated.

Alfred Mutebi, an ordinary citizen from Lyantonde blamed the ministers and MPs for budgeting for themselves to get exorbitant salaries and forget about majority of civil servants who are paid meager salaries.

The head of Budget Monitoring and Evaluation from the ministry of finance urged the civil society, legislators, and citizens to be more vigilant to ensure that government officials don’t inflate costs for government projects.

“Government officials in various entities are always inflating costs for projects for their personal aggrandizement. Costs of infrastructure projects are higher than they ought to be.

“If we could reduce the cost of constructing each kilometer of a road, we would save money which would go to the health sector,” Kakande passionately stated.

Citing various structures that are constructed and they collapse, Kakande argued that as a country, we have failed to fight corruption, and this is hampering service delivery.

Kigulu South MP Andrew Kaluya stated that whereas the country has been peaceful for over 30 years, little progress has been made in the economic empowerment of Ugandans.

“We need to step up the fight against corruption. There is corruption in politics and all other sectors. Uganda cannot develop economically if we don’t successfully fight corruption.

Government has been just changing the name for poverty alleviation from Entandikwa to Bonna Bagaggawale and Operation Wealth Creation but the program is the same and it has failed. It has failed because it is politically motivated and always comes at the time when general elections are approaching,” Kaluya argued.

Makerere University lecturer Fred Muhumuza expressed concern that the country is now spending the biggest percentage of the government revenue collection on debt repayment other than service delivery, which he said doesn’t make economic sense.

In the 2018/2019 national budget, over sh9.6t was allocated to debt repayment. The allocation for debt repayment was about 65% of the sh16.4t the government planned to collect in the course of the financial year.