It is important to celebrate the elderly

Friday October 2 2015

By Editorial

The move to bring together and celebrate grandmothers next week is commendable. This event, coming on the heels of national celebrations that marked the International Day of the Older Persons in Bundibugyo District yesterday, is well-timed.
Indeed, there is need to focus agenda on the elderly, especially grandmothers. And here is why the first national gathering of grandmothers initiated by non-government organisation Reach Out Mbuya and other co-actors, is significant. As a first, this is a great way to recognise grandmothers. For the first time, grandmothers get credited for undying devotion, love and care, especially for grandchildren.
The gathering also provides a national platform for grandmothers to share and exchange views and challenges on their lives and lives of those they care for. The majority of grandmothers are nannies who remain the backbone of support for orphans who have lost their parents and guardians. They are also the custodian of children in broken marriages. According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, at least 2.1 million Ugandan children who would normally be raised by their parents are cared for by older persons.
Surely, that grandmothers should be appreciated is not in question. And it is good that the ministry recognises the fact that women are disadvantaged by discrimination, neglect, and unjust inheritance rights, and maltreatment. This is why this gathering should amplify the plea to support grandmothers. This is not to say there is no awareness in government, or among other actors, and the public, except these challenges are inadequately addressed. This gathering should alert government to address the challenges, and gaps that face the elderly and quickly sort them out too.
The Uganda National and Housing Population Census 2002 puts the population of older persons at about 1,100,000. But this now stands at an estimated 1,600,000 million older persons. Sadly, by August 2015, only 123,153 of these older persons in 15 of Uganda’s 112 districts were benefitting from the Senior Citizens Grants.
Thankfully, government has expanded this assistance to more 20 districts in the Financial Year 2015/16, with five more districts to be added after every financial year. This will total 40 districts by 2020. This is commendable but deficient in both amount and coverage, given the burden that the senior citizens, especially grandmothers shoulder.
In sum, the Shs26,000 per month senior citizens’ grants should be expanded, and made to address old-age poverty and vulnerability, especially among grandmothers, given their burden of care. This will ensure they too, as senior citizens, lead independent, dignified and secure lives.

The issue: Celebrating grandmothers.
Our view: The Shs26,000 per month senior citizens’ grants should be expanded, and made to address old-age poverty and vulnerability...