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480,000 registered for Covid-19 relief funds as deadline nears

Government set out to distribute Shs100,000 to vulnerable persons whose incomes have been affected by the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | 480,137 people supposed to receive the 100,000 Shillings Covid-19 relief cash have been entered into the online payment system developed by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development as of today morning.

According to Paul Onapa, the National Programme Manager Youth Livelihood Programme at the Ministry of Gender, this is 89 percent of the target beneficiaries.

Onapa says the deadline for data entry set by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja is tomorrow.

Speaking this morning at a conference on “Targeting COVID Relief in Uganda: The role of Data, Statistics and Evidence”, organized by Development Initiative, Onapa also revealed that a total of 25,310 people had so far received cash by Thursday morning.

Last week, the government started the distribution of 100,000 shillings to vulnerable persons who were affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. However, it has triggered criticism on the amount distributed, the list of beneficiaries generated, and what definition of a vulnerable person government followed.

For instance, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago argued that recipients should be paid 10,000 shillings per day which would total 420,000 shillings for the 42 days of lockdown. Opposition legislators on Wednesday claimed that money is being given to government supporters.

As for how the figure was derived, Onapa says they used minimal survival expenditure basket calculation which was informed by expenses from the first lockdown. Thus he said, the relief fund is only for survival.

A key advantage of the cash transfer, Onapa said the money is evenly distributed across the country unlike in the first lockdown when it went to few suppliers.

Allana Kambabazi, a program manager for Health Rights at Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) argued that 100,000 Shillings is a drop in the ocean for vulnerable Ugandans living in urban areas since it doesn’t cover water, rent and electricity bills. The government, she said should have directed landlords not to evict tenants who can’t afford rent.

Rita Aciro, the Executive Director of Uganda Women Network argued that the multi-layered vulnerability approach that the Ministry of Gender relied on to identify the poor could disadvantage women. For instance, she argued that the boda boda industry is dominated by men.

She says that most of these men could have left their families in the villages. Aciro argued that there should have been a focus on reaching as many urban women as possible.

“Women who are urban, poor and single mothers have much more burden than men,” she said.

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