By Leonard Mukooli
Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development is planing to down scale the age of elderly persons benefiting from the SAGE monthly grant.
Gidudu Mafabi the minister of the elderly who also doubles as the mp of the elderly eastern region said government is in the process of executing this plan starting the next financial year 2021/22.
While inspecting the cash distribution to the elderly in Sironko, Gidudu said the senior citizens grant is inline with government’s committment to of inclusivity to development.
“This grant will undoubtedly grow when resources allow. However, the ratio are being made for increments, flexibility and legibility from 80 years to 70years and above” said Gidudu
Adding “our older persons are the most vulnerable and susceptible to illness but when we lower years, we will see more elderly enrolled into the program and this little money will help in improving their lives and livelihood”
Inclusivity in government programs
John Wamulugwa, the Sironko district chairperson of elders urged appealed to the Minister to ask government to consider elders in government programs like emyooga and the upcoming parish model since they have been left out.
Wamulugwa noted that due to the changing economic situation in the country, it’s high time government included them in other programs.
“We have the land where some of these projects can run so this Shs 25000 is not enough to sustain the livelihood of many elders thus we seek government to reconsider it’s position on the elderly” said Wamulugwa.
Sironko district community development officer highlighted that there several elderly persons in the community who have been left in the program due to the wrongful registration done by national identification registration authority (NIRA).
He appealed that to the ministry to liase with NIRA to see that these mistakes are corrected.
“I have moved in the community and you find out an eighty year old woman being registered as sixty and this puts them at a disadvantage to benefit from the program” he said.
Since the outbreak of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country, the elderly persons had not yet received their money and this left many crying.
However, Gidudu explained that government decided to halt the program until when it was safe.
“The second wave was very deadly and we couldn’t risk gathering these elders in one place. President Museveni advised us not give any money until when the situation had calm down” said Gidudu
He added saying there is no money worth someone’s life thus they would rather save the money for them as it accumulates and they pay them at once when it’s safe.
He added “We have however now started payments of all arrears countrywide we don’t expect any one to miss”
Impact of the program
Rachael Nandelenge, the Sironko District Senior Community Development Officer also says that the SAGE money changed lives of elders by opening small businesses, and buying basic needs.
Sawuya nambozo the 96 year old grand mother from Buyila village in Buteza sub county in sironko district affirmed that she has been able to establish to small retail shop using the funds she got from the program.
Ramadan Wazagila her grandson and caretaker told this paper that they they used the money that she got at first to open up for her a retail shop which give her some small daily income.
“Grandmother doesn’t like being idle so we decided to use her money to open up a shop as a way to keep her busy” said Wazagila.
Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) Programme in Uganda was introduced in Uganda to benefit the Senior Citizens who are 80 years and above. Government has been paying 25,000/= monthly to each elder above 80 years of age country wide to support their livelihood.
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