By: Ismael Kasooha
President Yoweri Museveni has said that mindset change is key for wealth creation and is a factor for ending Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy in Uganda.
In a message delivered for him by the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja during the national commemorations to mark World Population held at Kumi Boma grounds in Kumi district, Museveni says that the day’s theme rhymes well with the government development and socio-economic transformation priorities.
This is in line with Government’s development and socio-economic transformation priorities.
“On this 11th day of July 2022, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Population Day. The national theme for this year, “Mindset Change for Wealth Creation: Ending Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy,” is especially important because it focuses on wealth creation which is a game changer,” said Museveni.
The president said that he was happy to note that the Minister of Finance has talked about utilizing the Parish Development Model to respond to household economic needs in order to prevent parents from marrying off their under-age daughters for economic benefit.
The president said that early this year, he launched the Parish Development Model to integrate 3.5 million households that are currently in the subsistence economy into the money economy and to create wealth and jobs.
He said that to implement this, Government is providing Sh1.059 trillion for the full implementation of the Parish Development Model in the new Financial Year.
The Parish Development Model is an extension of Government’s approach to development as prioritized under the Third National Development Plan (NDP III).
“I wish to use the opportunity of this World Population Day event to encourage Ugandans to take advantage of these existing Government programmes in order to create wealth instead of marrying off young girls to get bride price. Government working together with its ministries and Agencies does not support and entertain the practice of marrying off young girls who are supposed to be in school? We shall not allow this to continue because child marriage is a significant barrier to our Country’s socio-economic transformation,” the message read in part.
Museveni reminded Ugandans that when the NRM came to power Uganda had unfavorable development indicators within the population.
He gave an example that before 1986, there was limited access to health services, a high disease burden, low literacy levels, low immunization rates and high rates of malnutrition. All these led to increased morbidity and mortality. But all these have been reversed and we are making progress in the following areas:
“Ugandans are now healthier and living longer. Life expectancy in Uganda has increased by 20 years in one generation, from 43 years in 1991 to 63.3 years in 2016. Resulting from this, Uganda’s population increased from 14 million people in 1986 to 45 million people currently. This population is projected to reach 50 million people by 2025 and 102 million by 2050,” said the president.
He said that as a result of increased immunization against the killer diseases, fewer children are now dying from preventable diseases. Infant mortality rate has reduced from 122 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1991 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016. In fact, this is one of the development goals, where Uganda has performed very well.
The president said that the number of women dying in childbirth and pregnancy related concerns reduced from 506 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1991 to 336 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016.
The proportion of the population living in poverty fell dramatically from 56 percent in 1992 to 20.3 percent in 2020.
Uganda’s GDP per capita increased to US Dollars 1,046, which is equivalent to Uganda Shs. 3.7 million per person per year. We have therefore passed the threshold for becoming a lower middle-income country. The entrance point to the lower middle income status is USD 1,036. This is a big achievement.
“Therefore, we cannot allow such negative practices such as child marriage to continue because they are a significant barrier to our socio-economic transformation,” said Museveni.
Members of Parliament during the commemoration of world population day at Kumi Boma grounds in Kumi district.
The president said that adolescent mothers are twice as likely to die from pregnancy and child-delivery complications; teenage pregnancy contributes to 20 percent of infant deaths; and teenage mothers are three times less likely to have professional jobs and twice more likely to be self-employed in subsistence agriculture.
“Child marriage and teenage pregnancy are the true enemies of our becoming an upper middle-income country. I therefore call upon all Ugandans to reject tendencies that promote child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and gender-based violence. We should instead focus on safeguarding the health and education of our adolescents,” said Museveni.
He said that the NRM Government will continue to provide these young people with education, skills, jobs and health care so that they become the engine of economic growth more so that the Ugandan population is mainly comprised of youth, at approximately 70%.
He pledged to continue engaging the young people through mindset campaigns and is optimistic that these efforts will deliver a productive workforce and this is what is called the demographic dividend and it spells out the economic benefits that we can have as a country from a healthy, skilled, gainfully employed young population.
“We should always remember that our youthful population is our greatest asset. So, we should all work towards improving the productivity and welfare of young Ugandans,” said the president.
The president called upon the leaders across the country and Teso Sub Region in particular to work with Government to solve this problem of child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
“All girls should be in school learning a skill, which they can utilize to gain some income. They should not be having babies. Those that have already had babies should be given a chance to gain skills that can empower them towards earning,” said the president.
He assured the people of Teso, and the other neighboring regions that government has strengthened security to deal with the issue of cattle rustling.
“We have trained Local Defense Units to boost our infantry manpower and soon we will defeat the cattle – rustlers,” he said.
He said that Uganda needs all of us prosperous, healthy, productive and creating wealth.
“Do not relax about Covid -19 because it is still with us. Heed to all vaccination campaigns as well as, observing the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to avoid death,” the message read.
Amos Lugolobi, the Minister of State in charge planning said that Uganda through the Parish Development Model will increase the incomes of the 39% still trapped in subsistence sector so that challenges such as child marriage are addressed.
The commemorations were graced by Ministers, Members of Parliament, UNFPA officials, local leaders from Teso region among others.