By: Javier Silas Omagor
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has promised that his government will put aside sh.110 billion to support the youthful cooperators across the country.
“Through the new initiative ‘Emyooga’ we are prepared to support any youthful group, SACCO or Cooperators who are embracing partnerships to ensure that they escape from poverty,” he said in a massage which was delivered by Rita Namuwenge, the chairperson Presidential initiative on Job and wealth creation.
The president expects the Emyooga Initiative to attain at least two of the Sustainable Development Goals; SDG 1 – ending poverty and SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and Communities. Emyooga is a Lunyankole word which loosely translates to people who are working in a group to achieve a common goal.
Namuwenge delivered the Presidential pledge while addressing the chair councils in Mbale town Monday afternoon, at Mbale municipal council chambers.
Before diving deep into the President’s speech, Namuwenge clarified that the move to support the youthful cooperators across the country had no correlation with politics.
“This is not a political decision… it’s a move to ensure that we encourage young cooperators to work together so as to achieve sustainable development goal number one, to end poverty. We are not taking any political decisions now,” said Namuwenge while delivering Museveni’s speech.
“It is a constitutional and a national duty for the person of the President to endeavor on empowering his population most importantly the young ones, who are the future of this country.” She said, referring to China, Rwanda, South Africa and other countries where empowerment of youths has paid off “immensely.”
While there have been several government initiatives tailored at helping citizens leave poverty behind, have not attained the expected significant impact, Namuwenge emphasizes that the President has started Emyooga as a new initiative which will implement the financial empowerment programs while taking into accounts challenges which the previous programs encountered.
Such a government programs include the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund, (NUSAF), Operation Wealth Creation, (OWC) and Youth Livelihood Program, (YLP) among others.
“The difference with this initiative (Emyooga) is, it’s not the districts or municipalities controlling the fund but the beneficiaries themselves receive the money and use it accordingly through management committees.” Namuwenge explained.
She warned the youths against State House impersonators some of whom were arrested in Ankole soliciting money from people as registration fee to benefit from Emyooga, advancing that the initiative is free of charge.
The presidential initiative national chairperson also observed that most of the other government programs were being suppressed by unnecessary bureaucracy and corruption tendencies by some civil servant especially at lower government levels.
Adding that “Emyooga initiative will ensure that youthful cooperators can access capital at the modest interest rate of 1%. They will be served by selected village banks across the country.”
According to the office of the President, the youth increasingly keep abandoning agriculture and cooperatives simply because they cannot or fear accessing commercial banks for agricultural loans due to high interest rates.
As a result, this significantly reduces the agricultural production levels in the country yet this is the backbone of Uganda’s economy.
Part of the President’s massage delivered stated that “Take Bugisu sub region for example, this region used to produce up to 25 million mega tones of Arabica coffee years back but today only 1 million mega tone of coffee is realized from entire Bugisu.”
Advancing that, “This is so, owing to an exodus by the would – be energetic young people from agriculture and of course the cooperative sector into other cheap and quick paying ventures. This is what my office wants to encourage the young population to turn around.”
Asked on how the Emyooga initiative will work, Namuwenge revealed that the President would soon inaugurate it officially in every region and thereafter, the beneficiaries will receive funds through their registered groups.
“We have already piloted this initiative in some parts of the country and its working in and constructive way.” Namuwenge said.
Majority of speakers who attended the meeting vowed to go back to their respective districts and municipalities to sensitize and help organize the youth for the fund.