MARACHA. The youth of Maracha district have been urged to desist from drug abuse and instead make use of the numerous government programs to improve on their lives.

The appeal was made by officials from the Ministry of Information, Communications Technology (ICT) and National Guidance at the district headquarters on Thursday.

The officials were in the district to address the youths on the increasing rate of crime, drug abuse and the need to start thinking critically by embracing the various government programs so as to alleviate poverty and improve on their living conditions.

The officials came on the request of Mr Godfrey Moja, a resident and the Maracha East County Parliamentary hopeful following a letter he wrote to the ministry’s permanent secretary calling for their intervention.

Maracha is one of the districts known for Khati (Mairungi) production and consumption in Uganda thus affecting the productivity rate of the youths in the area.

But during the meeting, Mr Ssango Ssali, the Senior National Guidance officer in the ministry of ICT and National Guidance urged the youths to consider concentrating on income-generating activities through the existing government programs other than wasting time chewing mairungi, smoking opium and drinking alcohol which substances he said are equally dangerous to their health.

He said the youth are known to be able-bodied and as a result, they should use their effort and time on productive activities as opposed to loitering on streets and trading centres doing nothing.

“We are here in Maracha today because of the call from Mr Moja who wanted us to come and talk to the youth in Maracha on government programs. In our interaction, we, however, established that the majority of the youths in Maracha were not aware of many government programs yet they are supposed to be the key beneficiaries,” said Ssali.

“When you talk of the Youth Livelihood program, Operation Wealth Creation, Scholarships and the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund among others, it is surprising that most of the youths in Maracha were not benefiting from them due to lack of information,” Ssali added.

He, however, used the opportunity to call upon the district administration to always inform the youths on government programs since the money is meant to benefit them.

Ssali also appealed to the youth to always yearn for information regarding the different government programs so that they can change their lives through projects like brick making, piggery, welding and poultry keeping among others.

Similarly, Mr Patrick Elali, the Chairman of West Nile community transformation and development network said it was worth giving orientation to the youth of Maracha because the majority lack skills of earning a living.

“We are moving on trying to see how we can develop these youths to get the knowledge of applying the little skills they have to get income and become successful in life,” Elali said.

“Instead of youths getting drunk, eating mairungi, taking marijuana; we said no, why don’t we bring these youths together, talk and transform them to build a network in order to address the problem of unemployment in the district,” Elali added.

Joel Ojandu, one of the youths who attended the meeting and a resident of Nadalikua village, Oleba sub-county, Maracha district said the orientation was timely and has opened their eyes to start working hard.

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“We used to waste a lot of time idling because we were not much informed of the opportunities that exist in the district. Now that the people from the Ministry have tipped us, we are going back to make use of this information,” Ojandu promised.