The State minister of Disability and Elderly Affairs Sarah Kanyike is in Katakwi, district Teso region for consultation over the Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) proposed age reduction from 80 cut- off age for beneficiaries.
The SAGE scheme under the ministry of gender, Labour and Social Development is a social welfare programme launched in the financial year 2011/2012 and piloted in the first 15 districts including Katakwi, Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Kaberamaido, Apac, Kole, Nebbi, Zombo, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Yumbe and Kayenjojo before it eventually got roll out to the 146 district nationwide.
A total of Shs25, 000 monthly is given with a target to benefit the elderly, who lack stable sources of income, family support structures and live below the poverty line.
At first 65-year and above were receiving the funds monthly, but, effective July 1 last year, it was raised to 80 years to enable the programme roll to rest of the districts in Uganda but with the exemption of only Karamoja region this because of the Affirmative Action.
According to the minister Kanyike, current cut-off age was raised due to limited budget by government because it was heavily depending on donors, however the ministry has kept on receiving complaints because a big population of vulnerable elderly have been left out to benefit from SAGE.
“Concerns of a cut-off age of 80 years is a national outcry, but as a government we are coming up an answer as soon as possible and that is the reason I am in Katakwi today,” said Kanyike.
Minister boost that Senior Citizen Grant has no doubt been impactful on the live of the beneficiaries, this is evident in areas of access to service like education, health, food and nutrition.
At national level to date a total of 304,555 older persons (179,750 females, 124,805 males) are benefiting from the programme.
In Katakwi district alone, the programme since implemented in 2011/2012 has benefited a total of 11,471(4,588 males and 6,883 female) older people, with over UGX 23billion used.
Katakwi is one of the district poverty level is high with it elderly population being hit hard, lacking basic life needs.
Charles Omome, an elder of 60 years in Getom Sub County in Katakwi district says the government should reduce the cut-of age to at least 55 years to accommodate more older persons.
Omome is accusing government for being unkind to the aging population