African Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (AYEDI)
This project promotes education and vocational training and decent work opportunities for vulnerable youth ages 15 to 17. The project also seeks to enhance livelihoods for youth and their families, support civic engagement of youth, and encourage youth to take on leadership roles within their communities.
Uganda has the youngest population in the world, with a median age of 15 years. Twenty-one percent of Ugandans are between the ages of 15-24. In 2009-2010, 60 percent of Ugandan youth age 15-24 were in the labor force. They face a number of challenges, including poverty, child labor, under-employment, unemployment, and lack of relevant education and skills for employment. It is estimated that 3 out of 10 youth in Africa live on less than $1 per day.
Many Ugandan youth are ill-prepared to secure decent work and are vulnerable to hazardous labor due to low school completion rates; inadequate formal or vocational training opportunities; insufficient technical and/or soft skills; and lack of entrepreneurial skills needed to identify local market opportunities; negative perceptions about youth; and pervasive poverty.
Although agriculture is the largest area of employment in Uganda, youth often see farming as a “last resort.” Moreover, youth are not generally positioned to take advantage of agribusiness opportunities along the value chain. The informal sector meanwhile employs 58% of the non-agricultural labor force, but is plagued by low productivity.
Through AYEDI clubs, the project will provide just over 4,000 youth with rights-based education, life skills, occupational safety training, study tours, and career guidance. In addition, the project will offer several education and training pathways for youth which include: (1) an Integrated Functional Literacy (IFLY) program to provide youth with no or little formal education with functional literacy and numeracy skills; (2) a Non-formal Education (NFE) Trade Certificate program targeting youth interested in pursuing work in a specific trade; (3) support for youth in secondary school at high-risk of dropping out and entering child labor; and (4) training in entrepreneurship and agribusiness (including through Junior Farmer Field Schools), linked to companies to start a microfranchise or microenterprise, and/or linked to internships. The project will also link youth and their caregivers to existing Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA); increase AYEDI youth engagement in civic activities; and build youth’s leadership and advocacy skills.
The project will be implemented in the Gulu, Lira, Iganga, and Bugiri districts of Northern and Eastern Uganda. Over 40,000 indirect beneficiaries will also be targeted through a range of activities, including the dissemination of occupational safety materials, links to existing Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) groups for caregivers, training of teachers in life skills and HIV prevention, and community awareness-raising and community mobilization activities conducted by youth.
As of September 30, 2017, the AYEDI project has provided education and vocational services to 4,886 children engaged in or at high-risk of entering child labor. AYEDI has also provided 6,276 households of youth caregivers with livelihood services including membership training through Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) and agricultural techniques for improved harvests.