Strengthening the Next Generation of Uganda

By building the capacity of young people the project will strengthen the next generations in Uganda


The Issue

Uganda has the world’s youngest population and is also the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa with over 1.5 million refugees, of whom 60% are young people. Both refugee and host community young people face several challenges such as high poverty and unemployment rates attributed to several barriers in finding or creating employment including limited access to quality and market-driven skills, limited access to credit, lack of learning opportunities to develop practical skills, limited business/entrepreneurial skills, lack of industry connections, discrimination, and long periods of inactivity due to conflict and displacement.

DCA equips 18,000 young people (60% young women and 70% refugees) with market-relevant business and life skills, establishing and digitizing 300 Youth Savings and Loans Associations (YSLAs), linking 200 YSLAs to financial institutions, providing 3600 young people with business incubation support, offering innovation grants to 750 young people, and building the capacity of consortium partners and stakeholders in gender and safeguarding through training and policy development.

The Project

DCA and a consortium led by Muni University are implementing the Refugee and Host Community Youth Empowerment and Transformation Initiative (RETI) program in Uganda, funded by the Mastercard Foundation. The program addresses unemployment among young people aged 15-35 in 15 refugee hosting districts, reaching 100,000 (60,000 female) and 70,000 (42,000 female) individuals. It provides educational and job opportunities, mentorship, internships, counseling, and mental health services to help refugees transition into the labor market.

The program also fosters networking and resource sharing among the youth. RETI project aims to provide quality training and skilling to 100,000 refugee and host-community young people, addressing the growing demand for education and skills development.

The project will strengthen universities, local organizations, and TVET’s to better serve these young people. It will train 100,000 people in life skills, 88,000 in non-formal vocational and business skills, 6,000 through short courses, 2,000 through internships/apprenticeships, and 4,000 with digital literacy and innovation skills.

The Change

The program aims to improve young people’s access to financial products and markets by providing financial literacy, utilise digital platforms for employment, supporting the formation and digitalization of 1,700 youth savings and loan associations (YSLAs), linking 1,000 existing YSLAs to youth-friendly financial services and products; provide 20,000 young people with business incubation support, provide 7,500 with innovation grants and link at least 10,500 to formal employment.

The key interventions include training and skilling, financial inclusion and market access, enterprise support, and employment support provide the framework through which refugee and host community young people will attain market responsive and transition skills to work. This will result in young people demonstrating improved skills acquisition, an increased number of young people linked to formal employment and starting or expanding their businesses.

Additionally, the young people will receive life skills like psychosocial support, mentorship, and sexual and reproductive health to equip the young people to mediate challenges in their lives and enable a smooth transition from the learning phase into employment. Thus, ensuring that young people are productive and transition to both wage and self-employment opportunities. In doing so, the program will contribute to strengthening the individual capacities of participants, and subsequently capacities of their employers and families.

The Results

Concrete interventions
  • Facilitated a radio talk show on International Women’s Day in Terego district on radio Arua-One, featuring guest speakers from the Office of the Prime Minister (Commandant Imvepi) and local government (District Community Development Officer).
  • Conducted project inception meetings with key stakeholders, UN agencies, research institutions, livelihoods and nutrition partners, and local governments, clearly communicating the goals and objectives of the RETI project.
  • Organized a gender and safeguarding capacity assessment across all RETI consortium partners to facilitate the development of a harmonized safeguarding policy.

More broadly, a functional community-based feedback mechanism for the RETI project has been established. This includes a toll-free line and a smartphone for capturing community complaints and feedback, and distributing registration forms for complaints and feedback to community-based facilitators and project staff. It has received 2,717 applications from young people for vocational skills training and work-based learning in Yumbe, Koboko, and Terego districts, and identified 91 local artisans to provide these training and learning opportunities.


The program is implemented through a consortium of nine partners, including three universities namely, Muni University, Gulu University, and Bishop Stuart; and six non-university partners, namely, DanChurchAid, Finn Church Aid, Community Empowerment for Rural Development, PALM Corps, Meeting Point Kitgum, and Young African Refugees for Integral Development. The Consortium led by Muni University has vast knowledge and experience in working on skilling initiatives based on market needs.

Thematic Relevance

DCA through its goal of “Building Resilient Communities“, focuses on building the economic, social, and environmental resilience of marginalized communities by increasing their production, income, and employment opportunities. DCA economically empowers marginalized young people (women and men aged 18-35 years) by equipping them with marketable skills that enable them to become competitive in the workplace.                                                           

About this project

Title: Refugee and Host Community Youth Empowerment and Transformation Initiative (RETI)

Period: 1st June 2023 – 31st May 2027

Partners: The program is being implemented through a consortium of nine partners: Muni, Gulu and Bishop Stuart University and Finn Church Aid, DanChurchAid, Community Empowerment for Rural Development, PALM Corps, Meeting Point Kitgum, and Young African Refugees for Integral Development.

Amount: 27,350,000 USD

Outreach: 100,000 (60,000 female)

Donor: Mastercard Foundation

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