The Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment Programme targeted to reach 362,561 older persons in the financial year 2019/2020. But of these, only 304,555 older persons successfully received their payment with the support of Postbank and Centenary Bank
At least 41000 older persons did not receive their due benefit from the Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment in the last payment, says the Head of the Expanding Social Protection, Stephen Kasaija.
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The Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment programme targeted to reach 362,561 older persons in the financial year 2019/2020. But of these, only 304,555 older persons successfully received their payment with the support of Postbank and Centenary Bank, while the 41,000 missed out due to sickness, frailty, migration among others. However, the government will ensure that all those who missed out get their money during the subsequent cycles of payment.
Of the 362,561 elderly people targeted, 124,805 are male and 179,750 are female.
The Government and its development partners who include the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Expanding Social Assistance and the Irish Aid have come out to support the SAGE Programme by handing over 135 motorcycles to the Community District Officers to all the districts in the country to implement all the activities of the Programme.
The government has taken note that most of the beneficiaries reside in faraway remote places and minister Sarah Kanyike says this makes it hard for the officers to access them. It is for this reason that her Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and its partners have provided means of transport to the field staff to enable them to reach the old persons in those places.
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The Government started the SAGE Programme in 2010 targeting the Senior Citizens and the vulnerable family groups considering the older persons of 65 years and above (but lowered in the case of more vulnerable Karamojong region to 60 years). This was aimed at enabling them to access basic services and to start income generating activities by paying them 25,000 shillings per month. This programme was piloted to 15 districts.
The programme has since been expanded to cover the whole country, but with the age to qualify for the grant raised to eighty (80) years.
Over the years the SAGE Programme has been operating it has benefited the older persons because they have been able to improve on their livelihoods by utilizing the money given. However recent reports from a survey by the Gender ministry found that the old people spend most of the money on their grandchildren's welfare.
Despite the achievements made in this Programme, there have been a number of challenges like reports showing that several beneficiaries were excluded from accessing the grant due to mismatch of information relating to the national identification card which is the primary document for the enrollment of the Programme.
However, the Ministry has promised to engage NIRA to ensure that those affected get their records corrected for them to be enrolled on SAGE and has also made a commitment to reduce the eligible age of the beneficiaries and this will be actualized when the resources are generated.