Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 75 percent of the population under 30 years old. This provides exciting potential for the future but also brings challenges. Youth struggle to find decent work and opportunities - especially in rural areas. The poor quality of education and the high number of children dropping out of school means many young people do not have the skills they need for employment. Climate-related shocks and disasters also threaten livelihoods and leave families struggling to support their children. We are helping youth and their families to meet their basic needs and escape the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
Vocational skills training
We equip rural youth with the skills they need to secure decent work and income. We provide training in a range of vocations – from tailoring and mechanics, to hairdressing and leatherwork, welding and agri-enterprises. Participants also receive training on financial literacy, market analysis, sales and marketing and other skills needed to start and grow their own viable small businesses. Some girls and young women who take part are now breaking down gender barriers, such as becoming the first female mechanics in their communities. Many of the youth who take part had to drop out of school and could not complete their education due to poverty or child marriage.
After participating in our recent Youth in Action programme in western Uganda, youth saw their daily income nearly double and 91 percent of them are now in work.
We support Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) to help young people access micro-credit and to invest their savings in new livelihoods. The groups provide simple savings and loan facilities for rural communities that do not have access to formal financial services, and help aspiring businesses to expand and reach new markets. They also provide a welfare fund to support members in case of unforeseen expenses such as bereavements or illness, which can otherwise send young people into long-term debt. The groups are 70 percent female.
We promote agri-business for youth by working with young farmer groups to support post-harvest handling and marketing, establishing centralised stores and providing crop processing equipment. We also work with Community Animal Health Workers to improve livestock health, milk production and low-scale commercial practices for pastoralist communities.
Building resilience against disasters
Parts of Uganda suffer from frequent disasters such as flash floods or landslides, which can destroy a family's livelihood overnight. We work with affected communities and local authorities to help put measures in place to protect against future disasters – such as building bridges, desilting river beds or installing flood defences. We support village disaster management committees, and help affected families rebuild their livelihoods.