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Social protection, a critical step towards attaining middle income status

By Geoffrey Mutegeki

Added 22nd February 2019 06:44 PM

Carlos said this on Thursday at his residence in Kololo during a reception to reaffirm development partners’ commitment and partnership in building a national social protection system.

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The Ambassador of Ireland to Uganda Carlos Williams (left) talks to National Council for Older Persons Representative, John Orach (right) and another guest at the function. Photo by Kennedy Oryema

Carlos said this on Thursday at his residence in Kololo during a reception to reaffirm development partners’ commitment and partnership in building a national social protection system.

KAMPALA - The Irish Ambassador to Uganda, William Carlos has applauded the efforts by the government of Uganda towards building social protection system which he said is a critical step the country needs to take as it transits to middle income status.

Carlos said this on Thursday at his residence in Kololo during a reception to reaffirm development partners’ commitment and partnership in building a national social protection system.

“I would like to emphasise that the uptake and expansion of social protection in Uganda is a critical step that the country needs to take as it transits to middle income status,” Carlos said.

Ireland has committed sh62b to the second five year phase of the expanding social protection programme ending in 2020.

This combined with the contributions of the government of Uganda and the UK; at least sh390b will be invested in the sector over the coming five year period.

Carlos applauded the financial contribution of the government of Uganda and called for broader investments in social protection.

He highlighted the results achieved following Uganda’s efforts in building a national social protection system especially through the Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE).

“SAGE is improving food security in households with an older person and has significantly improved nutrition in household with young children. The grant has also led to 14.2% increase in primary and school attendance,” Carlos said.

SAGE also known as the Senior Citizens programme was first piloted in 15 districts and now stands at 50 districts (in FY 2018/19) targets older persons who were 65 years and above and those who were 60 years and above in Karamoja region.

The Senior Citizens Grant which was initially sh23, 000 but was increased to sh24, 000 and eventually sh25, 000 has reached over 123,000 beneficiaries.

Jacob Opolot, the Chairperson UPFSP said social protection is elevating human dignity especially for the vulnerable elderly.

“We are thinking of rolling out to all 80-year-olds and above country wide so that it will be easy to keep pushing the age downwards but we are yet to conclude on this,” he said.

Fred Muhumuza, a development economist who spoke during the reception said that social protection secures bigger investments and thus the need for government to fully embrace it.

“If we increase the age to 80, we might lose out majority of the benefits we have already made. When government gives money to 65-years-olds, they have a lot to do with this money compared to 80-year-olds who are frail and not very active in developing the country,” Muhumuza said.

He said the money given to beneficiaries should also be increased, maybe pegged to dollar rate or inflation so that it is not affected by inflation or dollar rates.

The reception was attended by Members of Parliament mainly from Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection (UPFSP) officials from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and UK Aid, among others.

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