Some of the elderly waiting to receive their money. Photos by Moses Bikala
A total of 721 persons over and above the age of 65 years in Bugiri district have received sh150, 000 each from government to enable them uplift their household incomes.
The payment is a six-month arrears disbursement from SAGE, a government program that supports elderly persons in the country.
Elderly persons could not hide their joy as officials of Post Bank Uganda handed over their cash to them.
Lucia Nelima, a resident of Itakaibolu village, Nankoma sub county hailed government for the support.
“At first I thought I was dreaming because I could not imagine that government could make this a reality,” she said
Nelima said she would use the money buy goats for rearing to enable her supplement house hold incomes.
SAGE — implemented under the expanding social protection program in the ministry of gender, labor and social development — provides monthly grants to of sh25,000 (about $7) to older persons to enable them access basics necessities.
The program that was piloted in 2010 in 15 districts later rolled out to 20 more districts last financial year.
The program’s spokesperson for Busoga, Joseph Basoga, said a survey conducted in the districts that have been benefiting from the program indicates that the SAGE money has helped improve the welfare of elderly persons and their families through increased food security. It has also increased uptake of medical education services among children living with older people.
Basoga said the money has also helped older persons have the ability to deal with economic shocks besides increased the productivity of beneficiary households through investment of grants in purchase of livestock.
The LC 3 chairman,Buluguyi subcounty,Benya Wafula cautioned the beneficiaries against misusing the money on drinking alcohol and instead put it into proper use enable them uplift on their house hold incomes.
Wafula said the sub county realized a very poor harvest last season as a result of the prolonged drought.
“Many of these older persons have been complaining of hunger due to the prolonged drought. Now that they have received this money is a sign of relief,” he said
The LC 5 chairman Bugiri,Marijani Azalwa said the money comes at a time when there have been numerous accusations against politicians of failing to lobby for funds for the region’s elderly.
“You people have been accusing us of failing to present your issues to government but it is now time for you to prove that we are working,” he said
125 beneficiaries of the program died after being registered last year without receiving their money. But Mwanamoiza said majority of the elderly people ended up missing the money because they lied about their age during registration for the national identity cards exercise.