Young Ugandans Lead Recovery from Conflict and Extreme Poverty

23 Aug 10

Restless Development is pleased to share that we have secured a grant from Comic Relief to develop our youth-led work in Karamoja, Uganda, with expansion to begin in October 2010.

Despite decades of armed conflict, drought and famine, extreme poverty and heightened vulnerability, rural youth in Karamoja have proven their skills and commitment to lead peaceful development in their communities in collaboration with Restless Development.

Disproportionately affected by extreme poverty, insufficient economic opportunities, violence, aid dependency and poor education, young Karimojong risk sustaining the cyclical conflict predominant in the region. However, through a Restless Development (Uganda) pilot programme launched in 2009, 14 young Karimojong Volunteer Peer Educators were professionally trained and supported to lead the recovery from conflict and community development processes.  These young Karimojong demonstrated their commitment and ability to positively change the lives of their peers and communities, leading activities to build peace within their communities and to engage their peers in conflict resolution, while establishing youth income generating projects and influencing their peers to improve their sexual and reproductive health behaviours, livelihoods and commitment to peace.  The pilot reached 3,365 people with documented impact including:

  • 84 % increase in young Karimojong reporting increased capacity to respond to conflict
  • 36 % increase in young Karimojong reporting increased food security 
  • 18% decrease in young males having multiple sexual partners
  • 45 % increase in young males using condoms

Beginning in October, Restless Development will expand its Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) in Karamoja with the support of Comic Relief and the UK Department of International Development, increasing the scale of the programme significantly to reach over 15,000 people in 25 communities regionally through the annual training and support of 75 Karimojong Volunteer Peer Educators.

Over the three year programme, we will support these young Karimojong Volunteer Peer Educators to lead integrated livelihoods, peace building & conflict resolution, youth life skills and sexual reproductive health programming, while supporting their inclusion in decision-making processes at local, regional and national levels.

Secondly, we will build the capacity of partners, including 1,500 teachers, health centre staff, uniformed personnel, community entrepreneurs, and community based organisations in youth-friendly service delivery and organisational capacity.

Supporting broader impact through advocacy, we will train young Karimojong as advocates who will regularly engage decision makers through lobby meetings, stakeholder workshops, and regional youth consultations to hold them to account and push for changes in policy and practice

Perry Maddox, Country Director (Uganda), added:

“The pilot demonstrated that even in conflict, extreme poverty and isolation, young people share a restless determination to make things better. Anything is possible when we channel this energy into development. Young people can – and should – lead development processes even in the most difficult environments.  Having this grant from Comic Relief to extend our work over three years is a massive achievement for the team of staff and volunteers involved in the pilot and it reflects the growing awareness that young people must lead the most important development processes in our world.”