Each time development is talked about, the first thing that comes to people's minds is industries and enterprises. But wait a minute, before that can be realised, a good social strata and human resource is vital and is the starting block to drive economic growth and development.
Evelyn Anite, the Northern Uganda Youth Member of Parliament from Koboko district, West Nile is on a drive to push the youth in Northern Uganda forward in order to ensure sustainable growth in an area that has lagged behind because of so much political instability.
As she prepares to grace the Ugandan Convention UK on August 27, an event that is going to bring together Ugandans living in the diaspora, to try and sensitize them on how they can realise their potential, Anite is going to be a keynote speaker. And her message is clear. “There are so many challenges facing the young people of Northern Uganda and until we address them, progress will be slow,” she says.
For example, at this point in time, she adds, while the problem among the youth used to be early teenage pregnancies, it has now changed and even become worse. “Children at the age of nine and ten in Oli County, Arua district are getting pregnant and this has affected their future in school,” opines Anite.
Because of that, most of them, even after giving birth, can't return to school because they have their babies to look after and then, they feel ashamed at school and, therefore, can't fit in with the rest. Anite is of the view that the Ugandans living in diaspora can help end this problem by providing finances to set up free youth centres in Northern Uganda to educate the children about the dangers of early pregnancies and early sex.
Anite argues that the prevalence of early pregnancy cases has come as a result of limited civic education. In the end, if this continues to be the case, where more and more children, especially girls drop out of school because of sex related issues, the human resource in Northern Uganda will be small.
On the other hand, Anite says that although there is Universal Primary Education and Universal Secondary Education, there are still many children who don't go to school because they don't know the importance of education. In Anite's view, a non-governmental organisation should be established in Northern Uganda by the people living in the diaspora to go around sensitizing parents about the importance of education for their children.
However, more crucially, is the need to fight the ever increasing abuse of drugs and HIV/Aids among the youth in Northern Uganda. Setting up a free HIV counselling and testing centre may not be a profitable investment in terms of dividends for whoever sets it up, but it can help save many people's lives and that is a social investment for the good of the people in Northern Uganda.
Maternal and child health care is not adequate in Northern Uganda. It is thus an area that the Ugandans living in diaspora can invest in by setting up affordable health units with facilitated health workers therein. In a final appeal of solidarity, Northern Uganda is for all Ugandans, Anite said.
But Anite stressed that people from Northern Uganda must lead the charge to propel the region. “First, all northerners must learn to appreciate their culture and language. Once we appreciate our identity, we will value our roots and work to make it better,” Anite concluded.
BY JOHN VIANNEY NSIMBE