Time to invest in young people

Did you know the median age of Uganda is 15.5, making it the second youngest country in the world?  A series of maps released last week from the Global Post, show where the world's youngest and oldest people live. The youngest country in the world is Niger, with a median age of 15.1, and Uganda is a close second with a median age of 15.5.

Having a very young population such as Uganda's, which shows no sign of slowing down (average number of children per woman in Uganda is 6!), can have huge implications for the future of the country. With high unemployment, low levels of literacy and lack of access to resources, Uganda's young people are growing up without many prospects. A huge youthful population, if managed well, can bring huge benefits to a country's development - just look at China and India. However, if not managed well, and if denied access to opportunities, housing, jobs and training, this can have huge negative consequences on a country's development. Add the effects of climate change, water and energy shortages and food insecurity to the mix, and you have a recipe for social unrest. We are already seeing an increase in violent protests, petty crime, alcohol and drug abuse, and gang membership, particularly in the slums where we are working. Young people, particularly those from the urban slums or living on the streets, do not feel listened to by politicians or the international aid community. In a few years to come, this unrest could spell disaster across  Uganda and potentially the rest of Africa.

This is partly why we are so passionate about working with children and young people. We not only exist to support their basic needs, but also to empower them, to give them a voice and help them to be active in their own development. We provide education and vocational training in order to give young people skills and literacy, we speak to young people about their rights and encourage them to help make a difference not only in their own lives but in the communities in which they live in. We want to raise up a generation who are different and who will make a difference, a generation who want to bring peace and prosperity to Uganda, who want to use their voice for a positive change and to create opportunities.

Whatever happens, as the country with the second youngest population in the world, it is vital that Uganda's young people are taken notice of. They need to be invested in, listened to, given skills and opportunities to help shape a positive future across the nation. This is what we are aiming to do, and we are always looking for friends and other organisations to help support us. Please do get in touch if you would like to get involved, continue this conversation or work together in some way. Thank you.

Read more about the Global Post's median age of the world maps here: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/140904/map-youth-elderly-world-political-unrest-economy-unemployment