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Govt urged to reconsider change in senior citizens grant

FILE PHOTO: President Museveni meets an elder. Policy on senior citizens in Uganda changing

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government has been asked to reconsider a proposal to limit access to the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) Programme to senior citizens aged above 80.

The programme which commenced in 2009 is an initiative by the government of Uganda to improve the well being of vulnerable and impoverished senior citizens by supporting them to get basic needs. The initiative covers citizens aged above 60 in parts of Karamoja and 65 for the rest of the country. Each of the beneficiaries receives a monthly stipend of sh2 5,000.

However, the Ministry of Gender has announced that effective July 1, 2019; only persons aged above 80 will be included on the new list of SAGE recipients. But the change will not affect senior citizens aged above 65 that have been benefiting from the project since its inception.

Uganda Radio Network ( URN) talked to cross sections of Ugandans who say that the new measure is narrow and unfair.

Arap Marik Muhammad 68, a resident of Kapchorwa says the yardstick is disappointing considering that the number of Ugandans aged 80 is smaller than those aged slightly above 60.

There are 1,680,000 elderly persons in Uganda aged above 65. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the population projections for 2015-2020 put the population of Ugandans aged above 80 at 254,000 people (99,458 males and 154,831 females), out of a total population of 39 million people.

Richard Agizibwe, a resident of Makerere Kivulu says 80 years is rather too high in a country whose life expectancy is below 60. The life expectancy in Uganda is 56.7 years among males and 60.5 years for females.

Jessica Poli, 48, a vendor in Kampala says the support should go towards the aging population that is increasingly becoming vulnerable.

Oyam Woman MP Santa Alum says the decision to fix the age of beneficiaries at 80 and above is alarming and may not help suffering Ugandans. He says to-date, not so many Ugandans are aged above 80 and advises that the government should support those aged above 60 to live beyond 80.

Richard Ssemanda, the Secretary of The Aged Family Uganda (TAFU) an organization advocating for the rights and well-being of the elderly, says that although the wish is to include everyone, the resource envelope is still limited. He, however, adds that caring for any bracket of the elderly is a welcome step.

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