SHEEMA. The government has pledged to enrol more older persons on Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) scheme, provide the relevant drugs and medicines and possibly have them represented in parliament.
SAGE is a scheme through which older persons are provided with a grant of Shs25,000 every month.
A total of 151,178 older persons from 47 districts are receiving the monthly stipend. The government yesterday launched the scheme in 10 new districts during the commemoration of International Day of Older Persons in Sheema District.
However, the total number of beneficiaries in these new 10 districts was not disclosed. The assessment is still ongoing, officials said.
“I am aware that the expanding social protection programme, which was piloted in the fifteen districts in the first five years (2010-2015), is now reaching 57 districts with 10 new districts coming on board this financial year,” President Museveni said in a speech read for him by Vice President Edward Ssekandi.
Dokolo, Ssembabule, Sheema, Kasese, Mubende Alebtong, Adjuman, Otuke, Moyo and Kumi are the new districts.
Mr Museveni added: “I am also informed that the ministry of Finance committed Shs149 billion towards the start of the gradual national roll out of Senior Citizens Grant scheme to 40 new district over the next five years.”
The celebrations were held under the theme, Promote and Protect Older Persons Rights: A call to Action.
Mr Museveni said growing older does not diminish one’s inherent rights.
He called upon all stakeholders to protect older persons against abuses. The President said that following his 2016 directive, the Gender ministry initiated the process of enacting an Older Persons’’ Bill. The cabinet, he said, will “expedite the process of the proposed Bill.
“The NRM government acknowledges the contribution that older persons make towards building this country. It is in recognition of the older persons’ immense contribution to national development during their very productive age that as they attain old age, their families and communities, service providers and policy makers at all levels should accord them the respect and dignity they deserve,” Mr Museveni said.
The President said studies have indicated that 63 percent of the orphans and other vulnerable children in Uganda are under the care of the older persons.
Gender minister Janet Mukwaya, who was represented by line Junior minister Peace Mutuuzo, said there were more than 1.1 million people aged 60 years and above in 2002, and the number rose to 1.28 million in 2014.
She added that the research on situation of older persons, launched yesterday to guide government in addressing their issues, shows that they are less targeted by development interventions.
“The Research findings show that older persons are still actively engaged in economic activities… the [Gender] ministry is going to rely on the recommendation of the report to incorporate older persons’ issues in the broader programming for vulnerable groups,” said Ms Mukwaya.
Mr Joram Tibasiimwa, the chairperson of the National Council for Older Persons, appealed to the government to provide funds for operationalisation of councils for older persons. He said district chairpersons of older persons require Shs300m to induct members elected in 2016.
It would cost Shs1.4b to run the National Council for Elderly Persons and lower councils, according to Finance ministry estimates.
The 1,800 beneficiary older persons in Sheema districts yesterday each received a total of Shs225,000 to cover remittances for nine months (January-September).