This study evaluates the impact of Uganda’s Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) designed to help the poor and unemployed youth, between the ages of 18 and 36, become self-employed, increase their income and promote positive behavioural change.
While Uganda has witnessed positive economic growth over the last two decades, this growth has not translated enough into employment opportunities for the youth. The government has invested in youth funds as an alternative strategy to facilitate the youth to create their own employment. However, limited evidence exists about the efficacy of such programmes. Indeed, since its inception in 2013/14, Uganda’s flagship YLP has not been evaluated for this purpose.
- What is the influence of YLP on the income of the treatment youth groups?
- Does YLP contribute to employment among the treatment?
- What is the impact of the programme on social/behavioural outcomes of the beneficiary youth (drinking, smoking, and violence)?
The YLP is the Ugandan government’s flagship five-year development programme targeting poor and unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 30 years through the provision of affordable start-up credit. The youth groups receive a grant worth UGX 9.2 million (US$2,500) on average, without any collateral, at an interest rate of 5 per cent from the 13th month onwards. The youth groups also receive orientation on financial management, bookkeeping, group dynamics and procurement through a standardised two-day workshop.
Theory of change
The concessional start-up capital provided to the youth groups and the associated trainings is expected to lead to new business ventures, increased income, more formal relationships with financial institutions, better social and behavioural outcomes such as a reduction in violence and alcoholism, among others. The creation of youth interest groups and the provision of training, toolkits and funding are meant to enhance youth access to credit, and increase self-employment and income. It is also likely to have an impact on youth lifestyle and behaviour.
The evaluation used a mixed-methods approach, drawing on both qualitative and quantitative data collected through baseline and endline surveys on selected youth groups to evaluate the short-term impact of the YLP. The evaluation team utilised the over-subscription model to randomly allocate 201 groups of 402 screened and eligible applicant groups to the programme and the remaining 201 groups to the control group.
The YLP had no statistically significant effect on socio-economic outcomes of the intervention group compared to the control group. However, the intervention has helped the treatment group to move from unskilled to skilled, and unpaid to paid occupations, and they report enhanced ability to access credit facilities. Further, the asset portfolio of youth in the intervention group increased faster than their counterparts in the control group. The intervention reduced both tobacco and alcohol consumption among the youth in the intervention group, although the study noted a slight increase in domestic violence among YLP beneficiaries.
Implication for policy and practice
- To reduce the proportion of youth focusing on the less profitable livelihoods projects, the government needs to make investments in skills-based projects that are appealing to the youth.
- YLP needs to be delinked from the prevailing perception that it is an initiative for supporters of some politicians as opposed to being a government programme for all the youth in the country.