By Emmanuel Okwii
Residents of Uganda’s North-Eastern district of Karamoja have begun getting assistance from The Social Assistance and Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) fund. Under the programme, the elderly and other vulnerable elders are given a monthly stipend for survival by government. Although the community had recently opposed the programme; it is now transforming the lives of many individuals and the community at large.
This programme was launched in 2011 and currently has about 4,000 beneficiaries in the sub-region. The elders at first felt it humiliated them because they thought receiving the stipend was a sign of laziness since it would mean they were not engaged in any income generating activities.
The Programme is a component of the government’s Expanding Social Protection strategy that aims at uplifting the well-being of the elderly and other vulnerable people through monthly financial cash disbursements of shs25,000. It is funded by UNICEF, UK AID and Irish Aid.
70% of the Karimojong live below the poverty line and suffer largely from neglect and starvation. The Ugandan Government has currently allocated shs12.5 billion shillings to Kotido, Moroto, Nakapiripirit and Amudat districts in Karamoja. The project aims at helping people from 60-65 with food, shelter and medical care by paying such people shs25,000 on a monthly basis.