Over Shs 1.4 billion of the youth livelihood funds have so far been injected in Hoima district as a way of alleviating the youth from poverty.
Yet only 25% of this money, meant to uplift the lives of the youth, has been recovered with many beneficiaries claiming the money was a “gift” from government for supporting President Museveni.
In 2013, the government rolled out the Youth Livelihood Programme targeting the poor and unemployed youth to harness their social economic potential and increase self-employment opportunities and income levels.
The initial budget of the fund was Shs 265 billion.
In Hoima alone, over shs 1.4 billion has been disbursed out to the youth who confirmed to have received it.
One of the groups that benefited from the funds is Sibba Youth Development Project. The group that is comprised of 11 members, was given Shs 10.5 million and opted to start a piggery project to make quick profits.
“We knew that within two months, the pigs would have given birth to a certain number of piglets, which we would sell to get money,” said Anderson Tumukugize, the chairman of the group.
Yet all that is left of the piggery project is a rudimentary house that was home to the pigs and piglets bought without accountability.
“In instances where one pig gave birth to like seven piglets, they would all die and some times those that would have remained, did not grow well,” Tumukugize said.
Tumukigize’s group has only been able to pay back Shs 1.5 million, without hope of paying the remaining balance.
For other groups like Kyamugrmbe that set up a maize processing factory, they can’t even trace where they set up the project.
In a sweet potato plantation is where Muhumuza Godwin, chairman of the group tries to recall the exact location where they set up a milling machine using Shs 7.2 million they were given to improve on their financial potential.
“We constructed a house using Shs 700,000 and bought a milling machine for about Shs 4.2 million,” said Muhumuza trying to recall how the money was used.
Struggling to keep up with the project, the group later chose to sell the milling machine at Shs 1.2 million and the proceeds were shared amongst the group members.
“We sold the machine because it was hard to maintain it and yet members wanted money,” said Muhumuza.
They, too, are struggling to pay back the money hence making it tough to trace the members.
Other groups abandoned the projects in bushes a move that left locals fuming about misuse of taxpayer’s money.
“Imagine we pay taxes to create projects which end up not being impactful,” said Johnson Kabagambe resident of kibugubya village, kyabigambire subcounty.
According to Amos Isaac Bitamale, the Hoima district youth livelihood focal person, it’s been hard to recover the money from the groups because many of them are now untraceable.
“Recoveries were not as we expected since the youth had a different motive,” said Bitamale.
He added: “There was a deliberate misuse of these funds, for example some youth would buy motorcycles using the project money.”
Shockingly, with government funds deliberately being misused, the youth in the sub region said they are ready to welcome more livelihood projects with open arms.