Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Persons aged 80 years and above across the country will receive a one-time payment of 150,000 Shillings to cushion them from the economic hardships occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala, Peace Mutuzo, the State Minister for Gender said that their intervention targets 358,420 elderly persons across the 135 districts of Uganda. She said that although the national policy defines an elderly person as one from the age of 60, they decided to start with those of 80 years and above because of the limited resource envelope.
About 10 years ago, Uganda rolled out the SAGE program in selected districts where people aged 60 years and above are paid a monthly stipend of 25,000.
However, this time around, beneficiaries are going to receive 150,000 Shillings, aggregated to cover the month of January to June. To benefit from the grants, one must be 80-years and above and in possession of a valid national ID issued by the National Identification and Registration Authority-NIRA.
The minister said that all beneficiaries from the 47 districts where they have been piloting the project will continue to receive the grants even if they are below 80 years. She said in the bid to comply with the Ministry of Health guidelines, they have reworked the payment and registration process to ensure that elderly persons receive their grants without being exposed to the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
“Accordingly, when they come for these payments, older persons are expected to observe the following; Come wearing masks, observe social distancing and avoid congregating, wash hands with soap on-site and take temperature measurements,” Mutuzo said.
Unlike previously when payments were done at the sub-county level, this time, they have been brought down to the village.
World over, elderly persons have been the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to available data, over 70 percent of the victims of COVID-19 are people aged 60-years and above because majority have several underlying health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac, renal, and respiratory problems among others which make it easy for the virus to cause devastation.
Mutuzo said that during the lockdown, older persons have reported difficulties in accessing healthcare and basic needs such as food.
“The lack of transport has also substantially reduced the material support older persons are receiving from their children especially those children who are locked up in urban areas. This coupled with social distancing restrictions have left the majority of these groups more at risk of increased health complication, isolation, lack of material and social support,” Mutuzo said.