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Govt to Reduce Group Size in Youth, Women Funding Initiatives

KAMPALA

Government is considering a reduction in the number of people required for a group to qualify for funding under the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) and the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP).

The two government initiatives were rolled out over the last two years, to reduce unemployment among youth and women respectively.

The Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) seeks to equip youth between 18-30 years with skills and start-up capital to enable them effectively participate in National development and improve their quality of life. Similarly, The Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) provides women aged 18 to 65 years with interest free loans, technical advice, information on value addition and market access for goods and services.

To access financing in both initiatives, applicants have to present themselves in groups of between 10 and 15 members. However, the ministry has observed a need to reduce the number of members to not more than six in each group before the next cohort of funds is released.

The plan was unveiled by Gender Minister Hajat Janat Balunzi Mukwaya at the end of monitoring visits in several parts of the country. The visits covered the districts of Abim, Moroto, Katakwi, Mayuge, Kaliro, Kamuli, Mpigi, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Kisoro, Kabale, Isingiro, Ntungamo and Kiruhura.

James Tumwebaze, the Acting Programme Manager in charge of the Youth Livelihood Programme says that groups with fewer numbers of people are easier to coordinate.

In addition to reducing the number of members in each group, the Ministry of Gender will be reducing the length of the registration forms from three pages to one page in order to ease access to the funds.

Tumwebaze says that several beneficiaries have complained about the length of the current form describing it as cumbersome to complete. "In some parts of the country that we visited, people told us that they wanted shorter forms to fill in for registration."

The YLP was started in 2013 by government as a means of empowering youth in the country and to address unemployment among them. However in some areas like Mayuge and Mpigi, youths have been arrested for failing to pay back funds given to them.

 
 

Women activist Ask Government to Banish Hand Hoe

 
 
 

KAMPALA

Women activist groups in the country want an end to hand hoe-led agriculture saying it is one of the tools hindering the attainment of middle income status for Uganda.

Under their umbrella body Uganda Women's Network (UWONET), women say the hand-held hoe should no longer be a tool of production.

They told journalists at a press conference in Kampala, that rural women that make over 70 percent of the farmers in the country are bearing the brunt of the hand-held hoe. They say the women plant seeds by hand, weed by hand and harvest by hand.

Uganda Women's Network Executive Director, Rita Aciro Lakor said it is an embarrassment that hand hoe is still encouraged as a preferred tool in agriculture at a time when other countries are mechanizing agriculture.

Eunice Musiime, the Executive Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika says labour intensive agriculture is not yielding much to the farmers yet it comes with spinal cord injuries and premature ageing.

Musiime says mechanization of the agriculture would ensure more productivity and open up more land to agriculture. She says it is an acceptable for country like Uganda to have ten million of its people faced with hunger.

The women from various organizations were speaking at the launching of activities ahead of World Women's slated for this Wednesday. Their call comes at the time when government has allocated ten billion Shillings towards the purchase of hand hoes for distribution to farmers in the coming financial year.

The allocation however contradicts a commitment by President Museveni and other African Heads of States at the May 2015 Summit to end use of the hand hoe by 2025. The summit was held under the theme, "Women's Empowerment and Development towards Africa's Agenda 2063". The use of the handheld hoe is one of the problems highlighted in Agenda 2063.

Jeff Wadulo, speaking on behalf of Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) said funding to agriculture has over the years not been increasing at the time when some countries are getting concerned about the ageing profile of their farmers.

Wadulo said agriculture should be transformed so that it is attractive not only to women and young people. The solution according to Wadulo is looking at agriculture as a business and investing in modern technologies.

Apart from the hand hoes, the women activists want government to live up to the African Union commitment towards allocating 10 percent of the annual budgets to agriculture, and to target annual agriculture growth of 6 percent.

 
 

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