Youth4Policy is a joint initiative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Centre for Development Alternatives aimed at empowering the next generation of Ugandan policy experts to meaningfully contribute to policy analysis and public debates. The 12 Youth4Policy Fellows were officially welcomed to the program at a comprehensive introductory seminar from 6th to 8th April at Méstil Hotel & Residences in Kampala.
Youth4Policy serves as capacity development lab for youth leaders from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds such as academia, civil society, and public service with a motivation to research and analyze specific policy questions from a youth perspective. 12 Youth4Policy Fellows participate in a 6-month training program in the areas of policy analysis, research methodology, strategic communication and public advocacy. During their fellowship, they undertake independent research on a topic related to their area of expertise while receiving individual mentoring by a senior expert.
On the weekend of 6th to 8th April, Youth4Policy’s first comprehensive introductory training workshop took place. The 12 Youth4Policy Fellows, which were selected from over 400 applicants, participated in three days of workshop sessions related to understanding public policy and policy processes.
KAS Country Director Mathias Kamp opened the workshop by congratulating the Youth4Policy Fellows on their selection and emphasized that as the inaugural cohort of the program, they would be strongly involved in developing and shaping the program over the course of the next six months. He underlined the core objectives of the program: developing the public policy and research capacities of the fellows, giving the fellows a platform to share their research outputs and recommendations, and creating a network of likeminded young Ugandans shaping the public policy debate in Uganda and beyond. Kamp also introduced the work and objectives of KAS Uganda & South Sudan to the Fellows, highlighting that “democracy and civic participation are the keys to sustainable development” and the role young people play in shaping Uganda’s future. As “there is immense potential in engaging young people on policy issues, but research needs mentorship, facilitation, and time”, KAS Uganda hopes to contribute to a Uganda where young people are empowered to shape and influence the public policy discourse and decision-making, and where decision-makers uphold policy proposals from youth.
Yusuf Kiranda, Co-Director at the Centre for Development Alternatives (CDA) shared a similar perspective on why CDA has partnered with KAS on Youth4Policy: “there must be space for young people in East Africa to think about development constraints and generate solutions”. Because “development policies for countries such as Uganda are often generated from Washington, London or Paris” CDA on the other hand aims to transform home-grown ideas into action on development issues in the region.
How can scarce resources be allocated to meet unlimited social wants? Why do we need public policies? How are public problems identified? These were the questions Kiranda focused on while facilitating the first workshop session on the topic of understanding public policy. In the second session on policy cycles, Kamp underlined that public policies must be analyzed according to a number of dimensions: effectiveness, costs, feasibility, acceptability, unintended effects and equity.
Michael Mugisha, also Co-Director at the Centre for Development Alternatives, facilitated an engaging session on public policy advocacy and policy communication. He underlined that public policy advocacy is an intrinsically political process driven by the competition of ideas. Therefore, one of the main tasks of the Fellows will be to compellingly present their research findings so that their policy recommendations become accessible to a broad audience.
During the last session of the workshop, the Fellows had the opportunity to intensively brainstorm their research ideas and receive feedback from each other. As the Fellows are from a broad variety of backgrounds such as academia, civil society organizations, and public service, their areas of expertise are widely spread. The policy topics proposed ranged from the violence against women and girls in refugee camps, technological entrepreneurship, access to finance for youth, to transitional justice and economic crimes in Northern Uganda.
We look forward to the upcoming months with our Fellows and seeing their ideas being put into action!