Elderly cash pay outs cut extreme poverty

Thursday February 28 2019

Stipend. Social Assistance Grants for

Stipend. Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment provides a monthly stipend of Shs25,000 for citizens above 65 year. FILE PHOTO  

By DICTA ASIIMWE

Kampala. A study on the impact of Uganda’s unconditional cash transfers to the elderly has found that the monthly social protection programme has reduced poverty among benefiting households.
A monthly stipend of about Shs25,000 is given to the beneficiaries – senior citizens over the age of 65 under the scheme.

Some have reported using the money to help grandchildren buy educational materials such as books while others have bought poultry and livestock, especially pigs.
This improvement in wellbeing is in direct contrast to the rest of the country, where vulnerability has increased overall, according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) data.

Poverty
Releasing the final results of the 2016/17 Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS), Ben Mungyereza the Ubos executive director, said poverty in the country had increased by about two percentage points.
Since 2016, Ubos has twice revised the results of the UNHS, which initially showed the proportion of people living below the poverty line had increased from 19.7 per cent in 2012/13 to 27 per cent five years later.

On February 18, Mr Mungyereza announced that Ubos had settled on the final figure of 21.4 per cent to represent the proportion of Ugandans living below the poverty line.
While the rest of Uganda is grappling with increased poverty, a study conducted by Development Pathways - a research firm based in the UK - shows households benefiting from a programme called Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) bucking this trend.
The study found that in households with a member receiving a SAGE pension revealed that there was a 19 percentage point average reduction in poverty rates.

Mr Bjorn Gelders, the head of social and economic analysis at development Pathways, said the study shows that SAGE contributed to a reduction in child labour and enabled adults to remain active longer.
Adults of working age in the SAGE recipient households were also found to have an improved chance of getting employment.
“The pension appears to enable older persons to stay active longer,” he said.

Impact
Household members’ ability to remain active longer rubbed off the children.
The probability of children aged between 10 and 14 living with SAGE beneficiaries reported improved outcomes in school attendance. School attendance increased by seven percentage points.

Mr Diloa Bailey-Athias, a development economist, added that SAGE significantly increased the impact on household expenditure, a key proxy for overall living standards.
The study notes that in households with SAGE beneficiaries, expenditure per adult increased by 33.3 percentage points from an average of Shs45,011 to Shs60, 000.

The study, which was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development comes at a time when back home there is opposition to what has been described as the exportation of the dole to the Third World.
The dole, is considered to be an archaic welfare system that the developed world employed in the 1800s and 1900s to distribute money to people government considered to be poor.

About sage

The SAGE scheme is a social welfare programme whose pilot was launched in 2010.
It is intended for poor and elderly people who lack stable sources of income, family support structures and live below the poverty line.

The scheme currently offers beneficiaries a monthly upkeep allowance of Ush25,000 in 57 districts. In 2010, scheme beneficiaries received a monthly allowance of Shs23,000, while seed funding was provided by the British government, official records show. The amount caters for food, among others.

The overall number of districts in Uganda has grown to roughly 131 but the total value of funds received by beneficiaries over the past eight years remains unclear. The number of SAGE beneficiaries stood at 190,466 people by the end of March 2018, URBRA data shows.

Findings

The study found that in households with a member receiving a SAGE pension revealed that there was a 19 percentage point average reduction in poverty rates.
Adults of working age in the SAGE recipient households were also found to have an improved chance of getting employment.

dasiimwe@ug.nationmedia.com

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