Tuesday, November 15, 2016 

Japan gives $2m for Ugandan skills boost

INCOME IDEAS : In all, a total of 4,680 people from poor and vulnerable households will benefit directly with at least 50% being women.

KAMPALA, UGANDA - Uganda has received a $2.875 million grant from Japan through the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) which is administered by the World Bank writes SAM OKWAKOL. 

“Japan is committed to supporting efforts by the government of Uganda to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are felt by all citizens, in a direct and tangible way,” Kazuaki Kameda, the Ambassador of Japan to Uganda said in a statement.

The money is for improving access to income earning opportunities for poor and vulnerable households in Northern Uganda. The Office of the Prime Minister in Uganda will manage the grant under the new Northern Uganda Business Advisory Support Project (NUBSP).

A 120 existing community groups that were established under the NUSAF2 Project will benefit from the financing together with an additional 240. Groups are to have 10 to15 members, and receive training in business management and technical skills development to prepare business plans, among other

Over the 15 years of the JSDF program, Japan has contributed nearly $700 million, financing more than 700 grants to support a wide range of activities aimed at increasing livelihood opportunities and improving access by the poor and vulnerable groups to education, health, clean water and sanitation, legal aid, and other social and economic services.

The NUBSP is a three-year pilot project designed to complement the ongoing phase III of the $130 million Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF3) which is aligned to the government’s second National Development Plan and the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan. 

Through NUBSP the government wants to improve and sustain the incomes of poor and vulnerable households by providing business training, small start-up grants, and follow-up business advisory services to existing and new Community Interest Groups (CIGs) in four pilot districts in Northern Uganda. These include Kitgum, Gulu, Nebbi, and Soroti. 

The new groups will receive grants of up to $2,000 to start income-generating activities, and benefit from follow-up business advisory support services up to one year to ensure they obtain results. The 120 existing groups will be provided with training and business follow-up services.

 In all, a total of 4,680 people from poor and vulnerable households will benefit directly from the project – with at least 50% of the members of the new groups expected to be women. Other targeted beneficiaries include female-headed households, people with disabilities, and vulnerable youths.

SDF was set up by the Japanese government and the World Bank as an untied mechanism for providing direct assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable groups in World Bank member countries.

In fiscal 2015, the JSDF portfolio contained 92 projects amounting to $234.14 million, of which 61% was disbursed by the end of the year. 

JSDF is a partnership program between Japan and the World Bank Group  following the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s to finance innovative economic and social pilot programs through modest project and capacity building grants.

Today, JSDF projects go beyond this initial intent to address the issues of marginalization and security. Project grants finance activities to directly help improve livelihoods, services, and facilities for poorer population groups. 

This is accomplished by reinforcing social safety nets and testing of pioneering approaches that could be replicated on a larger scale. 

Capacity-building grants are used to augment the capabilities of local communities, non-government organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSO) that work with the poor and marginalized groups.

By Sam Okwakol, Tuesday, November 15th, 2016