Impact of youth development fund on the youth livelihoods in Zambia: a case of rural youth aqua-cultural entrepreneurs in Kasempa district.

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Chilefwe, Derrick
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The University of Zambia
In Zambia, 35% of the Zambian population is youth of ages between 15 to 34 years old. They are recognized as Zambia’s most critical untapped resource with the highest unemployment rate of 67%. Due to the increasing population of unemployed youths in Zambia, the Government of Zambia has been running various youth initiatives programs to provide training aimed at providing relevant work experience and skills to enhance sustainable livelihoods and self-employment. Zambia’s agriculture sector is on the other hand the second largest foreign exchange earner even though the aquaculture sector takes a small percent for providing informal self-employment and income generating opportunities. The purpose of the study was to establish the extent to which youth empowerment activities will have on their livelihoods. The study was guided by the following specific objectives: To determine the influence of financial literacy trainings, provision of start-up capital influence, market linkages and aquaculture empowerment on livelihood of the youth in Kasempa District. The study was be guided by Critical social theory of youth empowerment, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory and theory of growth. The study employed descriptive research design where a target population of 110 youths from Kasempa who in this case made up the total sample size for the study. These groups participated in the youth empowerment in sustainable agriculture (YES) project. Quota sampling was used to draw the participants that participated in the study while the Primary data was collected using structured questionnaire. Reliability of the data collection instruments was done using Cronbach’s alpha. Validity was done through pre-test to check inadequacies on the tools before actual data collection. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data by giving the standard deviations, mean, percentages and inferential statistics in the form of correlation tests and regression analysis. Results were presented using tables, pie charts and bar graphs. Based on the results of the study, it was established that financial literacy trainings had significant and positive effect on the livelihoods of the youth as the youth realized that they had a challenge in keeping records and that their level of education contributed to the slow uptake of understanding the record keeping concepts. The study also revealed that there was a significant and positive effect on the provision of start-up capital to the livelihoods of the youth which enabled them to start their aquaculture enterprises, enabled them to borrow loans and earn incomes. The linkage to markets also revealed a significant and positive effect on the youths’ livelihoods as it showed that market accessibility and information was important as it allowed availability of ready market for their aquaculture products boosted their income generation. Aquaculture empowerment of the youth also displayed a significant and positive effect on their livelihoods as it provided an opportunity for the youth to participate in savings and credit activities that allowed them to accumulate money to invest in the aquaculture enterprises. It also allowed them to appreciate that aquaculture provides an avenue for self-employment as it gave most of the youth opportunity to manage and make decisions on the operations of their own horticulture enterprises. It was recommended that youth empowerment programs. Promotion of aquaculture production as an employment opportunity for the youth should be emphasized with the aim of increasing quality and quantity of harvest and income to achieve lasting impacts.
Youth empowerment. , Youth development in Zambia.