Posted on August 30th, 2018
Wandago is an area 17km east of Jinja. Famed for its locally brewed alcohol, Waragi. It is one of the poorest regions in Eastern Uganda with some of the worst health and education records.
Turning off the Jinja-Iganga highway into Wandago, you are first hit with the heavy scent of Waragi production and the sight of fermented sugar cane bubbling in barrels over open fires. The second observation is the numerous children playing in a vast open space surrounded by plantations and traditional houses. In this space your eyes fall on a hive of activity: Children on the Edge in partnership with HYT are constructing a school.
Last week, we caught up with some HYT all-stars working on site and here they are.
28 years old and born in Busoga. Kabanda first joined HYT in 2015 on the 1V8 project in Kiseege. Since then he has worked on 13 different HYT projects in various locations. His favourite project was his first in Kiseege, he enjoyed the cultural differences, excellent food, welcoming community and learning new skills with fellow trainees. Before HYT Kabanda described himself as a peasant, his primary activity was subsistence farming. Asked what his construction speciality was he confidently announced, “all of it”, confidence is key!
30 years old and born in Butaaya. Micheal is a true HYT veteran, he trained with HYT on the first training program ever run in 2008. His first and favourite build was a dormitory in his hometown of Butaaya. Since then he has worked on over 100 HYT projects of all shapes and sizes. Before his training, Michael was a subsistence farmer with no monetary income. Like Kabanda, Micheal confidently claims that he is talented in all steps of construction, no preference over a single phase.
28 years old, born in Kamuli. Moses graduated from HYT’s 1V11 program in 2017, where he contributed to the construction of a rainwater harvesting tank, staff quarter and two classroom block at Kayembe Primary School. Since then he has worked 7 HYT projects. His favourite project is the ongoing Wandago project, he has previously been building water tanks and he is happy to be constructing using straight ISSBs, which he prefers. Before his training Moses was unemployed and had no monetary income, he would work the fields with his family. His favourite and most proficient area of construction is rendering. Moses also bears the great responsibility of site DJ, keeping spirits high with his playlist of Ugandan classics.
Posted on August 16th, 2018
The previous post explored Uganda’s environmental issues and the urgent need for environmentally friendly technologies, such as ISSB. Following the theme of Win-Win solutions, the focus here is Uganda’s fascinating social structure and the issues facing this youthful, expanding population. Framing HYT’s work in the context of Uganda’s demographic landscape highlights the importance of impacting education and employment.
Uganda’s population growth is one of the highest in the world, the average number of children per woman is 6.9 and half the population is under 15 years old. Having a young, growing population holds great potential but nurturing this potential can be challenging.
Child dependency ratios are a useful tool in understanding the impacts of a country’s age structure. The child dependency ratio looks at the proportion of dependent children (aged 0-14) versus the working population (people aged 15-65).
Uganda has one of the highest child dependency ratios in Africa: there are more dependent children than productive adults. High dependency ratio combined with population growth places huge pressure on existing infrastructure, the educational system and health care services. The productive population must bear the burden of supporting the dependants and pay higher taxes as public services strive to accommodate the increasing number of minors.
The government is desperate to utilise Uganda’s wealth of human capital as an engine for economic growth and development. To harness this growing workforce it is imperative that those of a working age are employed and contributing to the economy. Unfortunately, unemployment rates are shocking: 58% of 16-64 year olds are unemployed, meaning less than a quarter of the total population is in official employment. High unemployment amplifies issues associated with a dependent population, placing a further burden on the economy.
Why is unemployment so high?
In Uganda, it is thought that there is a mismatch between the type of education young people receive and the available jobs awaiting them after schooling.
“Numerous stakeholders consider vocational training to be a key missing link in the economy… The problem is less about education itself than about the type of education. Academic excellence is preferred over vocational skills. The degree fails to translate into practical skills.” Population Action International, 2010.
HYT Uganda addresses these complex social issues on multiple levels. For over ten years HYT has been improving education infrastructure: building classrooms, teacher’s accommodation, dormitories, latrines and rainwater harvesting tanks. Upgrading Uganda’s educational infrastructure is particularly important given the countries surging population.
Perhaps the true magic of HYT is its contribution to decreasing unemployment. In the process of upgrading school facilities, hundreds of unemployed youths have been trained in construction, equipping them with lifelong employable skills and in many cases future work with HYT.
HYT provides environmentally friendly construction solutions, whilst upgrading educational infrastructure and increasing the employability of Uganda’s youth. Win – Win – Win.
If you missed the previous post you can find it HERE.
If you would like to read more about the high dependency ratio in Uganda, click HERE.