The district senior community development officer in-charge of elderly and disability, Mr Moses Moiza, said the plan is timely since street begging has increased in Tororo Town.
“Street begging is a vice that must be fought head on because we have found out that a big number of able bodied people are abandoning their villages to beg in town,” Mr Moiza said in an interview yesterday.
He said the practice is undermining government programmes such as Naads, Operation Wealth Creation and the Youth Livelihood Fund.
“It’s unfortunate that these government programmes are failing because the supposed beneficiaries are on streets begging,” he said.
Mr Moiza said the district has lobbied for Shs283 million to help more than 900 persons with disabilities start income generating activities.
“We have financial support for PWDs to start income generating projects instead of begging,” he said.
He also attributed the significant increase of street beggars to several investors in Tororo Town who give out handouts to such people. “This normally happens on Fridays and it has attracted an influx of people turning up to receive the handouts,” he said.
“Some of those investors relocate and leave us with the problem,” he added.
Mr John Ikileng, the chairperson of the district disability council, welcomed the idea of removing the beggars from streets. “They should be removed and offered support to initiate income generating activities,” he said.
However, Mr James Etuket, a leader in the Emorimor cultural institution, said district leaders should tread carefully, saying begging has existed since time immemorial.
“The district leaders should know that begging is old as the earth but only solution is to find short term interventions to help some of the victims but not abolishing begging,” says Mr Etuket.
He appealed to the authorities to lobby the central government for access to the Social Action Grant for Empowerment [SAGE] that supports elderly people and widows.
Bishop Girado Olukol of Pentecostal Outreach Ministries said begging is not a crime.
“The Bible is clear that those who give or share with those who are less advantaged will be rewarded,” he said.
Findings from National Demographic Health Survey report 2016 shows that Tororo poverty index stands at 19 per cent and out the total population of about 468,096 people, 127,019 are unable to earn a dollar per day.
The report highlights the worst hit sub-counties as Iyowa (23 per cent), Nabuyoga (22 per cent), Kierwa (22 per cent), PAYA (22 per cent), Sop-Sop (22 per cent), Nagongera Town Council (21 per cent) and Nagongera at 20 per cent.
The district planner, Mr William Mulabye, acknowledged the challenge of street begging but said the poverty index in the district has been lowering due to government’s economic empowerment programmes.