Norah Omal is the Marketing and Communications Officer at Restless Development Uganda and she supported the Big Conversation by engaging Ugandan stakeholders through social media and organising meetings with Restless Alumni, partners and young people. In this blog she focuses on the outcome of Focus Group Discussions with young people, aimed at getting them thinking about the change they want to see in their communities, countries and at the global level.
In Uganda our goal was to involve as many young people as possible because they are the group being directly affected by negative sexual reproductive health outcomes, high rates of unemployment and poverty. As well as young people, we reached a mix of stakeholders, including community groups, partner and private sector organizations for a total of 511 people.
Our biggest reach however was indeed young people who made up 88% of the respondents for a total of 450 youth participants. In Uganda the rural population makes up to 83.58% of the total population. At Restless Development we work with both rural and urban youth and we know that, both groups have unique characteristics. We therefore thought it was important to capture the views of both categories.
In rural communities, our volunteers and alumni supported us to trigger group discussions around the Big Conversation and administer offline questionnaires. Urban youth on the other hand engaged through social media and online questionnaires. Interestingly, through the Big Conversation we discovered that youth in rural and urban areas are facing similar challenges.
Due to the high population density, it is increasingly difficult for young people to find employment. In addition, in spite of the predominant number of young people in rural areas, ownership of land and other resources is very minimal among youth. Therefore it’s no surprise that young people participating in the Big Conversation emphasized the need for better and more sustainable livelihoods options. They advocated for a boost in financial support to young entrepreneurship as well as improvements in the education curriculum to be more practical/vocationally relevant and include commercial agricultural techniques.
Young people also expressed the desire and readiness to become activists and bring about change both at the local and national levels. In their communities young people want to support the education system, promote human rights and good governance, and take part in political and leadership opportunities. At the national level they want to advocate for the creation of spaces for young people to share their views, for the implementation of policies specifically directed at youth, including employment policies, and the implementation of SDGs plans.
The valuable feedback young people, our partners and other stake holders gave us through the Big Conversation has been at the basis of our recent program planning in the Uganda office.
We tried to address the needs and desires of young people as stated in the Big Conversion with existing as well as new programmes. For example to support them to actively participate in development, we are launching a new project called the Big Idea, through which young people will be supported to conduct research on issues affecting them and their communities and to participate in district level decision making processes, using the evidence generated through their research to lead social accountability efforts. Going forward we will continue to draw learnings from the Big Conversation to inform the development of our National strategic Framework.