Youth participation in Government poverty alleviation Programs in Pajulu Sub County, Arua District
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Abstract The Youth Livelihood Program is an initiative by the government of Uganda to address the post-conflict problems of rural poverty, extreme levels of vulnerability, poor service delivery, low agricultural productivity, social exclusion and weak local governments in the Northern region. The study sought to assess the opportunities in this program, the level of youth participation, benefits the youth get from participating in Youth Livelihood Program, constraints, and strategies to improve youth participation in Youth Livelihood Program. The study employed a descriptive, cross-sectional Survey design which consisted of both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The study site was Pajulu Sub-County, Arua district. Data from 90 primary respondents were collected using a structured questionnaire, FGDs with the male and female youth beneficiaries of Youth Livelihood Program and Key Informant Interviews with the CDO, the representatives of the civil society organizations, local council chairperson, chief administrative officer Sub-County Youth Livelihood Program desk officer and the sub-county chief. The study used thematic and content analysis to make sense of the qualitative data collected. Quantitative data were entered into the SPSS version 16.0 and cleaned before analysis. It was then analyzed by SPSS version 16.0 at two levels; firstly, descriptive summary of the variables was generated using frequency distribution; secondly, Qualitative data from interview guide in form of conversations, patterns of opinions and beliefs were listed using direct quotes and paraphrasing common ideas. All data that relate to the already classified patterns were identified and expounded on. Related patterns were combined into sub-themes thus creating meaningful categories to which codes were assigned. Themes were identified by bringing together components or fragments or subthemes of ideas or experiences which are consistent with one another to answer research questions. The study findings revealed that participation in youth livelihood program was low only 38.9 percent. Majority of the youth that participated in the Youth Livelihood Program did to program beneficiaries and they were mainly involved in piggery, vegetable growing. In comparison with male youth participation which was 40.8 percent, female youth participation was found to be extremely very low only 36.6 percent due to their lack of education failure to pay the illegal membership fees that they were charged. The findings of the study also revealed that the main opportunities for youth participation in Youth Livelihood Program in Pajulu Sub-County included; success stories from Youth Livelihood Program beneficiaries, being a youth, training, and orientation of youth, mobilization of youth, enthusiasm among the youth and political commitments. The major benefits of youth participation that the study identified include; gaining employment, acquiring assets, and networking. According to this study the main constraints to youth participation in the Youth Livelihood Program were; corruption, inadequate information on the program and inadequate funding. To improve youth participation in Youth Livelihood Program, there is need to conduct exchange visits among the different youth groups in the Sub-County to exchange ideas and learn new farming and business strategies and to adopt best practices. The youth must continue with their demand for increased transparency and accountability among the program implementers to ensure that the youth benefit from this program. There is a need for the youth to continue to pressurize the government to increase funding for the Youth Livelihood Program so that many more youths can access the program since most youths have been left out due to limited budgetary allocation.