Youth Empowerment: Supporting Young People Through Agriculture, Health and Life Skills

Apr 15th, 2019 | By | Category: Family Planning, Other Resources

By Joshua Mirondo, youth writer for Transition Earth.

Josh photo

Adongo Jolly, a youth from Kanagai Sub County – Dokolo district in northern Uganda, said that she was shy and afraid to seek medical care even when sick. She had little information on sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) services, especially family planning. At the age of 24, she already has three kids. However, her life changed when she joined the Youth Empowerment through Agriculture (YETA) project.

In Uganda, about 151 people get infected with HIV every day, with 44.1% being young people. Adolescent girls and young women are predominantly at higher risk of HIV infection for a range of biological and socio-economic reasons, including poverty, gender inequality, and limited access to youth-friendly health services. According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) 2016, only 45% of young people have comprehensive knowledge of HIV.

The UDHS also showed that teenage pregnancy rates increased to 25%. The YETA project was therefore designed to mitigate these challenges through building financial and entrepreneurship skills of young people so that they are able to start and sustain agro-business ventures. The project brought together the unique skill sets and experience of partners, combining extensive expertise in agriculture and agribusiness, conservation agriculture, youth development, youth skills training, financial management, reproductive health, and community mobilization in order to engage and work with youth associations to build sustainable businesses.

I got to know about family planning through YETA, which I decided to take up in consultation with my husband.I initially used Injecta-Plan, but now we are using condoms. Using family planning has helped us set our goals and achieve some of our dreams. We have been able to build a permanent house and plan on having our next baby in five years to enable us plan better but also grow our business.” – Adongo Jolly

Adongo Jolly

Adongo Jolly

The project was implemented by National Cooperatives Business Association – CLUSA, in partnership with Reproductive Health Uganda and Youth Alive Uganda. YETA was a five-year MasterCard Funded program with youth between the age of 15 to 24 in the districts of Masindi, Dokolo, Kole and Kiryandongo. It involved trainings which were aimed at empowering young people to not only make health but also life informed decisions. Young people were given support and required to create associations to start-up businesses that can help them earn a living.

Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) focused on providing sexual and reproductive health related activities.The organization trained youth in specific concepts that they can relate to their everyday life, mentored them in the application of these concepts in a controlled setting, and then supported youth to try the concept on their own. RHU specifically had the mandate of supporting young people to grow their health-seeking behavior, to prevent and control disease, improve relationships among young people to take more control of their lives, have safer sex practices, and use family planning services.Above all, RHU strives to helpyoung people developa culture of seeking health serviceswhenever and wherever they needtoand make them feel they are in charge of their lives.

Jasper Ocen, age 25, is also a beneficiary of the YETA project. Heelaborated how he used to engage in reckless behaviour like alcohol abuse, had many sexual partners, and engaged in unprotected sex thus exposing him at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. It all changed for better when he joined the project and took keen interest in trainings, particularly on the topic of safer sex.

“I decided to use condoms after attending one of the YETA trainings. I also got keenly interested in learning more about family planning, which has helped us space our children,” Jasper revealed. He currently has two children aged 8 and 3 years, and does not intend on getting more until after 10 years, when some of his dreams like building a bigger permanent house and buying a car are achieved. “I would be having 10 children by now if we hadn’t opted for family planning. Imagine how much burden that would be on my wife’s physical health, finances and capacity to achieve my goals?”

Jasper takes care of one the pigs got from YETA

Jasper takes care of one the pigs got from YETA

Jasper currently has a pig raising project, and also hopes to venture more into agriculture with the knowledge he has gained from YETA.

The YETA project successfully ran for five years and trained young people about governance, leadership, life skills and sexual and reproductive health. In addition to the training, they were able to receive useful information on what they can use to earn a living and look after their homes. It introduced youth-friendly services to the health centres in the districts and bridged the gap between the local people and the government.

Efforts such as the YETA project are having an impact in Uganda and changing the lives of youth for the better.


Joshua Mirondo is a digital marketer, blogger, photographer and  volunteer at Reproductive Health Uganda.  

All photos by Joshua Mirondo.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.