LIRA – The recovery of funds disbursed to the youth in Lira City under the Youth Livelihood Programme [ YLP ] stands at 29 percent, according to officials.
Lira City first received a total of Shs 750 million under the programme in the financial year 2014/2015, but at the moment, only Shs 218mln has been recovered from the beneficiaries, leaving an outstanding balance of Shs 532mln.
Cumulatively, YLP in Lira City has benefited 70 groups much as it started with only 10 groups.
The groups that benefited include Bazzar East Boda-boda Youth group, Ireda Central Park Piggery, Obuto-Welo B Youth Poultry, Ober Entebbe Youth Leather Works, Kakoge A Youth Vision Piggery.
Others are Akwoyo Youth Catering Services group, Cuk Ebange Youth Event Management and Catering, Market Square Youth Boda-boda group, Bar-Onger Konypaco Youth Produce Buying and Selling and Lira Town College Youth Boda-boda group.
According to Tom Richard Okello, the Lira City community development officer, the government did not release the funds for the project in the financial year 2019/2020, because most of the youth groups that got the money previously did not pay back.
Okello is however hopeful that the project under the Gender ministry will receive additional funding under phase II of the programme given that they did not receive the funds in the last financial year 2022/ 2023.
“The government did not release money because most youth who got the money did not pay back. We were further allocated a total of Shs 160mln in the last financial year 2022/2023 but the ministry did not send us the money. We are waiting for this first quarter to get this money,” Okello added.
He further said most of the youth were breadwinners for their families and hence diverted the YLP funds to meet the needs of their families, instead of investing it as originally planned.
“We are trying to persuade them to pay back the money but it is hard because they lack business skills and their interest was different from what they applied for, others diverted the money so they could meet family needs, while others shifted residences and others joined forces,” he further said.
Denis Abor, a group member of Railways Quarter A Youth Produce Buying and Selling Group said they were given only Shs 5mln and ended up paying back only Shs 2.5mln.
Abor said they lost a lot of money due to variations in the prices of commodities and competition from other produce dealers.
“We faced a lot of challenges especially in the prices when we went to the villages to buy produce, we would return to town to sell them but found the prices had dropped and also there was stiff competition from other produce dealers since we were new in the business,” he said.
Samuel Ogwete, the chairperson of Railways Quarter B Youth Hope Alive Brick Molding Group confirmed that the group collapsed due to COVID-19.
By the time it collapsed, Railway Quarter B Youth Hope Alive Brick Molding had paid back Shs 3.5mln out of the Shs 6mln disbursed to them.
Ogwete however added that many of their group members could not continue working with them before the pandemic because they thought the money would just be distributed among them.
“We stopped in 2020 because of COVID-19, and we did not have matching interest whereby some of us stepped aside and could not come to mold bricks,” Ogwete said.
Much as some of the YLP Groups have collapsed, some have gained business skills and they are able to operate their own businesses.
Ogwete said he has about three people he has employed to help mold his bricks.
YLP is a Government of Uganda financed programme designed as one of the interventions of government in response to the high unemployment rate and poverty among the youth in the country. It covers all the 112 districts and cities of Uganda [including Kampala Capital City Authority].
Cabinet and Parliament approved budget of Shs 265 billion for the first 5 years of implementation 2013-14 to 2017-18 [Phase I]. The Programme was launched January 24, 2014.
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