Communities in Uganda suffer from multiple challenges, such as poverty, food insecurity, high rates of malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, and high population growth rates. Poor governance and ineffective service delivery systems often exacerbate these challenges. Many poor households rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods, but technical assistance and extension services often do not reach them. Poor education and lack of access to land severely limit the ability of Uganda’s youth to positively contribute to the country’s development.
USAID/Uganda ICAN Project worked with community groups to maximize economic opportunities for vulnerable households, stabilize their access to and consumption of diverse and nutritious diets, and increase social capital by reinforcing relationships between formal governance systems and communities. Making Cents International supported the project by improving the participation of adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) agriculture and non-agriculture-based livelihoods, and by strengthening their connections to markets and financial services.
To achieve this, Making Cents developed a youth livelihoods program that: 1) focused on their engagement with and inclusion into Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), and 2) was complemented by an agri-preneurship curriculum, with support from private market actors to connect to them to market systems. Given Uganda’s high proportion of youth population, the livelihoods program was developed with youth at the forefront to ensure its relevancy to the participants. To implement these interventions, Making Cents provided capacity strengthening to Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs), who can then launch a consulting business of their own. This step not only reinforces a market-led approach, but also increases the quality of delivery of BDSPs as they deliver fee-worthy services.
Additionally, Making Cents engaged with AGYW between 14-24 years old to build their human and social assets, which will empower them to build a healthy and more resilient life. Making Cents supported the ICAN team to implement a series of five-day camps that provided AGYW with the opportunities to reconnect with the project’s learning platform and expand their competencies required for holistic growth. These camps employed the Empowerment for Adolescent Girls framework to build their voice, choice, and control over assets.