To date, about Shs 1.4 billion in young livelihood grants have been infused in Hoima district to help the youth escape poverty.
Only 25% of the money designed to improve the lives of Uganda’s youth has been recovered, with many beneficiaries saying the funds were a “gift” from the government in exchange for their support for President Museveni.
In 2013, the government launched the Youth Livelihood Program, which aims to harness the social economic potential of impoverished and jobless youth and enhance self-employment options and income levels.
The fund’s initial budget was Shs 265 billion.
Over shs 1.4 billion has been distributed in Hoima alone to youth who have confirmed receiving it.
Sibba Youth Development Project is one of the organizations that benefited from the cash. The 11-member group was granted Shs 10.5 million and decided to create a piggery project in order to gain rapid money.
“We knew the pigs would give birth to a particular number of piglets in two months, which we would sell to make money,” said Anderson Tumukugize, the group’s chairman.
However, all that remains of the piggery operation is a primitive hut where the pigs and piglets purchased without accountability were housed.
“In cases where one pig gave birth to seven piglets, they would all die, and those that would have survived would not have grown well,” Tumukugize explained.
Tumukigize’s organization has only been able to repay Shs 1.5 million, with no possibility of making up the difference.
Other groups, such as Kyamugrmbe, who built up a maize processing facility, have no way of knowing where the enterprise was started.
Muhumuza Godwin, the group’s chairman, struggles to recall the exact spot where they set up a milling machine with Shs 7.2 million they were granted to increase their income potential in a sweet potato plantation.
“We used Shs 700,000 to build a house and Shs 4.2 million to buy a milling machine,” Muhumuza recounted, attempting to recall how the money was spent.
In order to keep up with the project, the group decided to sell the milling machine for Shs 1.2 million, with the earnings split among the members.
“We sold the machine because it was difficult to maintain and members demanded money,” Muhumuza explained.
They, too, are having difficulty repaying the funds, making it difficult to locate the members.
Other organizations hid the projects in the bushes, angering neighbors who saw the projects as a waste of taxpayer money.
“Imagine paying taxes to fund initiatives that aren’t successful,” said Johnson Kabagambe, a resident of kibugubya hamlet in the Kyabigambire subcounty.
It’s been difficult to reclaim the money from the organizations, according to Amos Isaac Bitamale, the Hoima district youth livelihood focal person, because many of them are now untraceable.
“Recoveries did not go as planned because the kids had a different motivation,” Bitamale explained.
“There was an intentional misuse of these funds,” he said, “for example, some kids would utilize the project money to buy motorcycles.”
Surprisingly, despite government monies being misappropriated, the young in the subregion claimed they are eager to welcome additional livelihood programs.