When Half the Population is Under 15 Years Old: Social Implications and HYT Solutions

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.



Youthful Population

All smiles outside this ISSB classroom block



Population Structure


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).



Mabira Forest Water Collection

Ugandan children often contribute to household responsibilities, in this case water collection



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.



Increasing the productive population

HYT trainees in Kiryandongo: more women are signing up for HYT training, mobilising the female workforce increases the productive population.



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.




Iowa State University Wall

Operations manager Phillip Yiga casting an eagle eye over trainee’s work. HYT training covers all aspects of construction using ISSB.

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.



Mobilise the productive workforce

Vocational skills are highly valued in the Ugandan job market




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.



Classic HYT build: ISSB classroom block with adjoining kitchen



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.



Youth empowerment remains at the heart of HYT’s work in Uganda.




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.


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Winners of the Ashden International Award for Sustainable Buildings 2017.

Watch our exciting video, or check out our work at hytuganda.com

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