Political Interference Hampers Recovery of Youth Funds in Bugisu

1258 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda

In short
Denis Namisi the Bulambuli District Youth Chairperson blames the YLP Focal Point Persons for not involving the district youth leadership in the sensitizing the youth in regard to the recovery of funds.

Political interference, corruption by technical staff and lack of knowledge on projects is affecting the recovery of funds disbursed to youth groups under the Youth Livelihood Program in Bugisu sub region. In the 2015/2016 financial year, government disbursed more than Shillings 2.3 billion to 287 youths groups in Sironko, Bulambuli, Manafwa, Bududa, Kapchorwa and Mbale districts.
The money is part of the Shillings 265 billion government set aside for the Youth Livelihood program. Figures from the Gender, Labor and Social Development Ministry, show that as of January 2017 Mbale district had recovered Shillings 42 million out of the Shillings 522million disbursed, Bulambuli recovered Shillings 44million out of Shillings 312 million while Bududa returned Shillings 25million out of the Shillings 363million received.

Manafwa district has only recovered Shillings 17miliojn out of the Shillings 362 million disbursed. Kapchorwa has returned Shillings 7million out of the Shillings 297million disbursed while Sironko has recovered Shillings 59million out of the Shillings 382 million disbursed. 

Joseph Ojiambo, the Sironko District Community Development Officer, says "Sub county chiefs, sub-accountants collude with leaders of these groups and agree to share some of this money and this has greatly affected recovery." Ojiambo also doubles as the Sironko District Focal Point Person for the Youth Livelihood Program.

He also notes that utterances by some politicians in the district during the 2016 elections has affected the implementation and recovery of program funds in Bugisu as some youth still hold onto the idea that YLP program was payback by NRM government for the votes. The slow recovery forced government early this year to stop funding for the Youth Livelihood Program in some of the districts across the country.

Simon Butsatsa, the Manafwa District Youth Chairperson, says most of the groups have disintegrated. "Most of the groups have fallen apart as they lack coherence because they were formed by members who did not understand each other well enough and have never worked together," he said. He also notes that most of the groups in the district failed to implement projects due to lack of knowledge to run them.
 "We can have a group get money for poultry when actually none of the group members is interested in relating with chicken, such groups have ended up splitting the money and now paying back has become difficult because they didn't invest it correctly," Butsatsa said.
Denis Namisi the Bulambuli District Youth Chairperson blames the YLP Focal Point Persons for not involving the district youth leadership in the sensitizing the youth in regard to the recovery of funds. Fadil Twalla, the Kapchorwa District Youth Chairperson wants government to investigate the possibility of ghost projects within the program.
 He fears that some focal point persons could have created none existent Youth groups, which are directly getting money from the program.  "There are groups in my district, which I have never seen any of their members but are fully funded and the details of their funds recovery is also kept a top secret by those manning the program in the district,"Twalla told URN on Tuesday.
Isma Mafabi, the Eastern Youth MP wants all information regarding the YLP groups pinned on public noticeboards for transparency purposes. Samuel Odong, the National Youth Council Publicist, says they are going to push for the arrest of focal point persons who have failed to recover the funds, which may affect the next disbursement.
"This is a revolving fund and if those charged with the responsibility to recover it are failing on their part then they have to be apprehended for failing their work," Odong said. He claims that some of focal point persons including sub-county chiefs and sub-accountant are failing to recover the money because they took bribes from the beneficiaries. "We have a case in Kapchorwa where a focal point person fought with group members at a bank forcing them to share the funds with him," Odong said.