Young people of Karamoja made a unified appeal to local leaders at the end of August, asking them to stop taking their generation for granted and ignoring them in decision-making processes.
“It is wrong to leave out young people when making policies that directly affect their lives,”
voiced the youth representatives who attended the Regional Youth Consultation – a first of its kind in Karamoja.
The situation in Karamoja, located in North-Eastern Uganda, is unique – shaped by years of conflict and insecurity, and an agro-pastoralist way of life. Karamoja is the poorest region in Uganda – 82% of its 1.1 million people live in chronic poverty. Young people make up more than half of the region’s population yet they are disproportionately affected by poor socio-economic development, being negatively perceived as ‘violent warriors’, ‘useless drunks’, ‘backwards’, etc., and excluded from decision-making processes.
Restless Development's (Uganda) two-day Regional Youth Consultation themed
Young People’s Civic Rights and Responsibilities: Accelerating Development through Participation in Decision-Making Processes
aimed to convey to stakeholders that youth are the solution to Karamoja’s economic transformation.
The consultation attracted 92 young people from across the districts of Moroto and Napak and offered a unique platform for youth to dialogue with local decision-makers on issues affecting their lives, primarily their civic participation, livelihoods and sexual and reproductive health. The consultation led to young people, recognising their role in leading development and having understood their opportunities for engagement, collectively committing to:
- Mobilising themselves and their peers to actively participate in development and peace processes
- Contributing to and owning government-led livelihood and health services and programmes
- Staying safe from HIV and AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted diseases
Young people then requested local leaders, during round-table discussions, to support their development commitments made to themselves, their communities, and their country. Decision-makers agreed to various actions, including:
Committing to youth specific sections and budgets in all development plans – pushing Youth Councillors from Parish to District level to gather and account for this important information
Ensuring the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) 2 benefits young people directly
- Promoting a youth-friendly culture in line with the Adolescent Friendly Service Standards in their health centres and amongst their health workers
"There is nothing for us [young people] without us!"
says Samuel Kuvuma, Chairperson of the National Youth