Empowering Uganda’s Youth: Life Skills & Health Education (Yamba) App Development Workshop Sparks Innovation

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Uganda is one of the countries in the sub-Saharan region with considerably high new HIV infection rates with young people aged between 15-24 accounting for 60 percent of the 83,000 new infections in the country. Studies show that university students aged 18-24 years face multitudes of sexual reproductive health challenges which can be attributed to limitation in access to SRH information and services. If effectively implemented, the SRH App is expected to bridge this existential gap of accessibility to information. 

Mr. Ochira John Pa’Kony – The Assistant Commissioner in charge of Universities and Higher Tertiary Education at the Ministry of Education and Sports in Uganda officially opened the 2-day workshop.  Mr. Ochira stated that “when the majority of the country’s population is unhealthy, then productivity is low and therefore our young people must be healthy to be tomorrow’s change agents. Mr. Ochira further noted that the development of the mobile app is a blessing to the project as it will facilitate reaching the target audience. 

The yamba app is expected to offer a wide range of features, including educational modules, access to expert guidance, and a platform for users to seek answers to their questions and share their experiences. By empowering young people with accurate, non-judgmental, and culturally appropriate information on SRH and SE, the app aims to address the unique challenges faced by students and young adults. 

The workshop highlighted the importance of involving young people in the creation of resources that directly affect their lives. By engaging students in the design process and ensuring the app aligns with Uganda’s cultural values, the project is more likely to be effective in addressing the unique challenges that young people face. Mr. George Ginyera – The O3 Ambassador for Uganda reiterated this position by noting that, “there is nothing for the young people without the involvement of the young people. The program is tailor-made for the young people, and they (young people) are core stakeholders in the realization of the program goal.” 

The event was facilitated by a team of experts led by Mr. Donald Tererai, a digital expert from the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa who provided technical guidance through the sessions. Mr. Tererai highlighted some of the existing SRH Apps in HTEIs (Higher and Tertiary Education Institutions) in the region effectively providing an overview of the application development process, promotion, acceptance, and use, including lessons learned in other countries. He also spearheaded the discussion on the App Development Workplan in Uganda with emphasis on the software development life cycle. 

Other sharing realized during the workshop included sessions on experiential exercises where students suggested App features, functions, and customizations including accessibility features. Emphasis was put on accessibility and inclusion features by young people with special needs. 

With the technical analysis and app modeling already concluded, the team is expected to progress to the development phase of the app expected to last 3 months. The development of the Life Skills & Health Education App is a collaborative effort that underscores Uganda’s dedication to improving the well-being and reproductive health of its young population. As the app progresses, it has the potential to become a vital resource for students and young adults in Uganda and serve as a model for similar initiatives across the continent and around the world. This innovative step is seen as a significant stride toward a healthier and more informed youth population in Uganda. 

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