Let’s Not Leave Anyone Behind [editorial]

A man jumped from the sixth floor of Mabirizi complex to his death on Tuesday! Twenty-year-old Deus Kabikire wrote, in what is believed to be his suicide note, that he had been abandoned by his relatives hence the decision to terminate his life.

This was the second such incident in as many months after a young woman, Annet Ashaba, fell off Workers’ House in October, reportedly because her relatives had fleeced her of savings she made while working in Dubai. These two cases are just a small sample of the growing tendency by young people to take their own lives after finding the going tough for different reasons.

It’s not a coincidence that the people resorting to such extreme measures are mostly youths. Young people, who form the majority of the Ugandan population, are bearing the brunt of a hostile economic climate devoid of adequate employment opportunities.

Only extreme hardship would force a youngster to go to such length to end his or her misery. Ending or at least mitigating such hardship should be the primary goal of every government.

Ironically, the recently-released Poverty Status Report 2014 states that the number of Ugandans living in dire poverty has fallen to 19.7 per cent. The report says the middle-class has grown to 37 per cent (12.6 million people), adding that 2.6 million Ugandans have jumped into this category in the last three years alone.

Impressive as they are, these figures are meaningless to the likes of Kabikire and Ashaba. Indeed, many Ugandans doubt the authenticity of such data because their own realities tell a different story. Speaking about the poverty report, United Nations Resident Coordinator Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie acknowledged Uganda’s progress but cautioned against leaving some people behind.

She was spot-on. The war against poverty will be won faster if our development interventions are equitable and inclusive. For people in danger of falling behind, it is incumbent on the government to provide a safety net that helps them back on their feet.

Such support might be too late for people like Kabikire and Ashaba, but it would save many other youths who find themselves in the same plight.

Source : The Observer

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