The youth livelihood fund expected to uplift standards of the area youth in Budaka has instead dragged them into more decline. Corruption and wastage of funds has left projects on brink of collapse. The revelations came out during fact finding mission in the area by civil society. Irene Namajja was there.
In what would pass for a mere illustration, doors and window frames are displayed as evidence of Bujaasi Youth Metal fabrication in Budaka TC Sub county. A few of the staff in the workshop are engaged in a board game.
The group of thirteen youths, three female established a metal welding business as part of the Youth Livelihood Programme funds. The start was a recipe for failure as the youth say their purse was under declared.
A member of Bujjasi Metal fabrication Group Wesige Umar says, “We received less money than what we asked for, of the fifteen million shillings we asked for, we only received seven so it wasn’t enough. We used part to buy machines from Kampala and it got finished, we don’t have some of the other required machines.”
Another member of the same group Kisale Herbert says, “We asked for the money sometime back but it was given to us very late.”
The Budaka County member of Parliament Mbogo Kezekiah says“Instead of getting the 15 million they signed for they only got seven, that means there was some bit of corruption on the side of the officers”.
The youth were also ill prepared for the stakes.
One of the youth explains, “I have not been able to benefit from the workshop yet because the business is not progressing. We don’t have good market to sell our products yet we also have to save money and buy the equipment we don’t have.”
Mbogo Kezekiah adds, “A one day training cannot be enough for the youths to acquire the necessary skills. They need to have specialized skills and then they train them for some good number of days so that the money is given to someone who is really trained than now having a workshop of one day and the following day they dispatch the money.”
Legislators say the attitude of handouts does not guarantee success.
The Woman Member of Parliament Bulambuli district Sarah Wekomba says, “Even when this program came to empower the youth get out of poverty instead when they got the money all they did was spend it lavishly calling it a presidential handshake. I think we should first change the youths’ mindset.”
The Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, on a fact-finding mission in one of the poorest districts demands step up of efforts to rehabilitate youth.
The Parliamentary Liaison Officer at the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group Jeff Wadulo says, “About 28 billion shillings in the Auditor General’s report is at risk of not being paid, youth are actually running away. The other problem is the leader who are not helping the youth, they are not telling them the truth.”
The however fault the youth on dependence syndrome.
Wadulo says, “They are the net beneficiaries of this program but if they don’t play a cardinal role of being honest about the money they give, about the projects they want to carry forward, the others can only take advantage of them.”
The Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) was introduced in 2013, targeting the poor and unemployed youth to harness their social-economic potential and increase self-employment opportunities and income levels with an initial budget of Shs.265 bn. The performance of the fund continues to raise suspicion.