Karamoja must be food basket - President Museveni tells youth at International Youth Day celebrations

Tuesday 12th August 2014

President Museveni has commended the youth in Uganda for being focused in identifying challenges they face and also proposing correct interventions for solving those problems.

“I’m happy the youth are talking sense, talking about un-employment, poverty and capital to solve those problems. They are talking the right language,” he said.

The President was speaking during the National celebrations to mark the International Youth Day at Boma grounds in Moroto Municipality Moroto district.

The colourful event was held under the theme “Unlocking young people’s potential for sustainable development through collective investment”.

The President was responding to remarks made by the Chairperson of the National Youth Council Samuel Kavuma who said the youth had, in their meeting prior to the main event, identified issues affecting them as un-employment, poverty and lack of capital.

The President noted that some of those issues could have been solved a long time ago but some political actors wasted time on non-issues and left out serious matters that affect the masses.

He pledged to take up their concerns including declaring a youth day as a public holiday with relevant line ministries.

Addressing himself to the people of Karamoja sub-region, President Museveni urged the people to embrace commercial agriculture as the soil in the area is fertile. He stressed that Karamoja must be a centre for food production.

He also assured them of factories starting with the cement plant, as the environment is now very conducive for attracting investors to the region.

"The cement industry will be the first to take advantage of peace, roads and electricity in Karamoja. Am not like God who says let there be earth and there is. I have no capacity to do that. What I can do is work and struggle to get factories here,” he said.

President Museveni further called on the people of the region to value the Kidepo National Park saying parks are sure money earners and another source of income directly and indirectly for the communities and for government.

“In the whole of Uganda, we produce coffee that earns government US $ 400 million, but tourism alone is now earning US$ 1 million annually. You can sell food, crafts and provide accommodation and earn money from tourists,” he said.

The President cautioned the people of Karamoja sub-region, especially the youth to guard against HIV/AIDS, saying many youth squander their lives through promiscuity.

“If you want to live for many years that God gave you on earth keep away from promiscuity. Fire is useful when it is left in the fire place. When you put fire in bed there are problems. It is the same with sex. Sex is useful but in the right place, at the right time, with the right person,” he said.

The Hon. First Lady who is also the Minister of Karamoja Affairs Mrs. Janet Museveni reminded the youth of Karamoja not to take the freedom now prevailing in their area for granted and urged them to help lead their communities to real transformation.

“There was a time in Uganda when the youth were forced to skip their youthfulness. The environment would not allow it. Now you can enjoy the freedom, but remember that you have a duty to uphold that freedom and help your communities to develop,” she counseled.

Mrs. Museveni called on the youth to join hands with the leaders of the region to transform Karamoja adding, that there is no reason why Karamoja should not feed itself and other districts.

“When you talk of the many millions in the budget for the youth, we are looking to you to lead transformation. Lead your communities into real transformation. To whom much is given much is expected. Enjoy it and always remember that you have the duty and responsibility to uphold this freedom, don't take this freedom and development for granted,” she said.

The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Ms Mary Karooro Okurut, thanked President Museveni for his commitment to the cause of the youth and also commended the Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Mrs. Janet Museveni, for the good leadership she has taken to the region.

The UNDP resident Representative in Uganda, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa Onochie, noted that proper nutrition before a child is born is the cornerstone for unlocking the potential of the youth.

The Youth Minister Ronald Kibuule emphasized the need to fully utilize all resources available for unlocking the youth potential in the country.

President Museveni later gave out cheques to the youth under the Youth Livelihood Program (YLP) to the districts in Karamoja sub-region.

Amudat received Shs. 329.8 million. Kaabong Shs.534million, Kotido Shs.422.6 million, Nakapiripirit Shs.388.4 million, Napak Shs.432 million and Moroto Municipality received Shs. 100 million. Abim district was among the first 27 districts to benefit from the YLP program.

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