Young people in the Karamoja districts of Kotido, Kabong, and Abim have been urged to participate in government livelihoods development programs such as the parish development model (PDM), emyoga, and NAADS in order to financially empower themselves and desist from practices such as cattle rustling and other environmentally degrading activities like charcoal burning as a source of livelihood.
The call was made by Mr. Joseph Lomongin, the Kotido district chief administrative officer, when officially opening the Live Your Dream Youth Camp Kotido, which took place from April 21st to April 24th, 2022, at Kotido secondary school.
The LIVE YOUR DREAM YOUTH CAMP KOTIDO was held under the theme “Leaving No Young Person Behind: Positioning Young People in the Fight for Gender Equality, SRHR, Life Skills Enhancement, and Peace Building” and was organized by the Uganda youth and adolescent health forum in collaboration with Kotido district local government, with support from UNFPA and Brac Uganda.
It brought together 120 young people from three districts in northern Karamoja, including young dads, adolescent girls and boys in and out of school, young mothers, pregnant teenage girls, peer educators, and people with impairments, among others.
The three-day event had the following goals: to provide young people with age-appropriate, accurate SRH, HIV/AIDS, and maternal-child health information; to empower youth with age-appropriate, correct HIV/AIDS and maternal-child health information; and to empower youth with age-appropriate, correct HIV/AIDS and maternal-child health information. To provide a platform for girls and boys to learn about the underlying causes of gender inequality and violence, as well as to courageously challenge, report, and speak out against all forms of violence, injustice, and oppression.
discrimination, sexual abuse, and the negative stereotypes they face in their communities. To create awareness among adolescent girls and young women in Karamoja about the severity of teenage pregnancy, harmful practices, and gender-based violence issues, as well as how to prevent and manage these issues, Working with young people to address the root causes of conflict, provide mitigation techniques, and lay the groundwork for youth peacebuilding helps motivate and encourage young people to use basic inventions and readily available resources to engage in entrepreneurship, skill development, and revenue generation, and encouraging young people to participate in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
“The government has put in place various livelihood development initiatives such as emyooga, parish development models, and NAADs, all of which aim to empower young people throughout Uganda, and from which some of your colleagues in other districts have already benefited.” Mr. Lomogin stated, “These will help you become self-reliant and economically powerful, allowing you to stop the abhorrent behaviors of cattle rustling and charcoal burning.” He added.
He admitted that most young people in Karamoja are either unaware of these initiatives, don’t know how to access them, or are afraid to approach officials about them. He did, however, advise them to contact their individual District community development offices for assistance in obtaining these grants.
The three-day events had a series of educative and engaging topics including understanding key drivers and underlying factors for teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, child marriages, and SGBV among young people, strategies that young people can use to challenge key barriers and enhance access to SRHR services, Growing Up (Transitioning from childhood to adulthood) Body changes, puberty, menstruation, health, sanitation, and hygiene, Working with young people as agents and champions for eliminating SGBV, peacebuilding, and security, and enhancing young people’s employability, business start-up and management, entrepreneurship, skills development, and understanding available government opportunities, among others. The participants held group learning sessions, panel discussions, and breakaway sessions with guidance from the facilitators.
While presenting a session on HIV and Aids, Sister Eveline from Kotido Regional Referral Hospital informed the participants of the need to access medical attention early in case they find out that they are HIV positive. While Dr. Dennis from CUAMM, a cofacilitator on the same topic, encouraged the young people to utilize the available youth-friendly corners in their communities to acquire some of this information and youth-friendly services without fear of stigmatization.
During his presentation on peacebuilding and security, Mr. Kalisto, the officer in charge of security in the Kotido district, emphasized the fact that women are the champions of peacebuilding and peaceful conflict resolution. He also encouraged the participants to always report conflicts and violent cases instead of taking justice into their own hands.
During the fireside chat with the young people, Mr. Mathew Lochoto, a cultural leader, emphasized the need for conflict resolution using peaceful and non-violent means. The young people, who were divided according to their respective districts, also shared stories, cultural songs, and dances that advocated for peace during the fireside chat.
While closing the camp, the LCV chairperson for Kotido district, Mr. Lote Paul Komol, who doubled as the guest of honor, encouraged young people to use the knowledge learned from the camp and become ambassadors of peace in their communities. He also suggested that UYAHF and other implementing partners establish an IT training center to keep the young people busy while also providing them with economic empowerment through IT and communication skills.
On the second day of the camp, the young people participated in a community outreach where they cleaned the Wu’um cattle market and also held sessions on proper hygiene with the local people.
The camp was blended with quite a number of fun activities and performances from local cultural dance groups, sports activities like volleyball, netball, aerobics, football, and indoor games like chess and Ludo.
The participants, represented by Brac pear educator Auma Eveline, thanked UYAHF for empowering them, particularly on issues such as addressing sexual and gender-based violence, family planning, safe motherhood, and child-parent relationships, among others.