The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender and social Development Pius Bigirimana has for the first time spoken out on the challenges likely to affect the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP)a project he initiated to help youth in Uganda escape unemployment plague.
He conceptualized the idea last year, in the first month after he was transferred from Office of the Prime Minister to Gender Ministry and the programme was launched by President Museveni early this year at Kololo independence grounds.
The five year rolling programme is a Multi-sectoral community driven plan targeting the poor and unemployed youth all over the country.
And that the rationale of the programme is to change the mindset of the youth who look at Government as the only employer, which has created high levels of poverty because they have a feeling of marginalization and exclusion.
In an interview with this newspaper, Bigrimana talks about the challenges, progress and implementation of the Youth Livelihood Programme.
RP: Since the initiation of the YLP has it encountered setbacks and what are the Ministry’s counter measures?
PB: The Ministry of Gender has been bombarded with overwhelming demand for support across all districts amidst budgetary constraints and this slows down the pace at which the program should be moving on.
However, the Ministry communicates the resource allocation to each district on an annual basis and constantly sensitizes the public on revolving nature of the fund.
Also the low technical capacity in some districts and low staffing levels in some critical positions has to an extent affected the program. But the technical support team in the Ministry has also provided targeted backup support to the affected districts regularly.
RP: Are the challenges only internal?
PB: No, there are also several attempts by some of the stakeholders especially politicians at national and local level who are using all sorts of influence thereby violating guidelines and thus the Ministry has instructed the districts to submit detailed information on all projects they approve as well as those they defer at sub-county and district levels.
RP: How far have you gone with the progress of disbursement of funds?
PB: Despite the challenges, my Ministry has already covered 27 districts where over shs 11B has been disbursed to 20192 youth (male and female) and the next step will be full scale implementation in 85 districts under phase two and the key activities are sensitization of sub county teams, selection of beneficiaries/preparation of project proposals and financing the approved projects.
RP: What is the procedure of selecting beneficiaries?
PB: It depends on the project proposal by the youth. The project maybe under categories of agriculture, trade, vocational skills, ICT, agro-forestry, creative art and others.
At the national level, a technical working committee was established which overseers the program. That committee is supported by a small technical support team that is fully functional.
Various programme documents, guidelines and formats have been developed and disseminated. An operation system has been set up to monitor, evaluate, and manage information system, financial and communication management.
RP: How is this helpful to an ordinary Ugandan?
PB: In this implementation arrangement, the Ministry ensures that local government (district and sub county) are the hub of execution of the programme and the local government levels are responsible for mobilization, sensitization, generation and approval of youth projects, monitoring and supervision.
The Ministry provides the technical guidelines, support, capacity building, financing and overall coordination. And the relationship between the Ministry and districts is governed by memorandum of understanding signed before disbursement of funds,” he clarified.
He concluded that the program has gained pace and is on course because it represents great prospects and opportunities for the youth in Uganda to change their living conditions.
RP: Your last word
PB: I urge all stakeholders to undertake their roles and responsibilities rightly and in a timely manner because the success of YLP depends on their commitment.
Who is Bigirimana
Bigirimana was born in Rukoro, Cyanika, Kisoro district in 1958 to the late Peter Kalerangabo and Dorotia Nyirabikire. He descends from the lineage of King Kimenyi, the last king of Bugesera in eastern Rwanda.
His surname Bigirimana which means God has everything in the Rufumbira language is testament of the hand of God in the life of the Permanent Secretary.
In 1966 he attended Gatete primary school in Kisoro, Mutolere primary school and 1973 joined St. Pauls Seminary, St. Mary College Rushoroza where he completed his O level.
He then joined Caltec Academy in Kampala for A level and in
1980 went to Makerere University.
He also studied Postgraduate Diploma in Development Administration majoring in Economic and Social Policy at the Victoria University of Manchester, United Kingdom in 1988, Master of Arts Degree in Development Administration and Management, majoring in Economic and Social Policy at the Victoria University of Manchester, United Kingdom in 1991 and Masters Degree in Business Administration at the Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI) Arusha, Tanzania in 2010.
Bigirimana joined government in 1984 as a civil servant until today.
1984-86: Assistant District Commissioner
1986-88: Personal Asst. to Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs
1988: Asst. Secretary Ministry of Local Government
1988-90: Asst. Secretary Office of the President
1990: Obtains MA in Development Admin, Manchester University
1993: Promoted to Principal Assistant Secretary
1998: Attends Royal Institute of Public Admin, London, for a course
in financial management.
1998: Attends similar course at Harvard University
1998: Promoted to Under Secretary, posted to Education Ministry
2000: Goes back to Harvard University for a Public Sector Financial Management course; passes with a distinction
2005: Posted to Ministry of Public Service as Under Secretary
2005: Goes to Singapore for a knowledge management course
Late 2005: Posted to Ministry of Health as Undersecretary
2008: Promoted to Permanent Secretary and posted to the Office of the
July 2013 – To date Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development