What you need to know:
- The SAGE is under the Expanding Social Protection (ESP) programme in which the government provides a monthly grant of Shs25,000 to citizens above 80 years
A total of 54,559 elderly persons are missing out on the social assistance grant for empowerment (SAGE) over national identity card-related challenges, the government has said.
Of these, 11,000 persons have not registered with National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), while 43,559 have wrong ID details.
The SAGE is under the Expanding Social Protection (ESP) programme in which the government provides a monthly grant of Shs25,000 to citizens above 80 years.
Mr Dominic Gidudu Mafwabi, the Minister of State for Elderly Affairs at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, in a press statement said bank accounts have to be opened for beneficiaries in Centenary Bank to receive the grant.
However, it is a requirement by the Bank of Uganda that for anyone to open a bank account, they must have a national ID.
“There are older persons who meet the SAGE eligibility criteria of 80 years and above but cannot be verified unless they have a national ID. Many of the national IDs of the elderly persons have errors on dates of birth, names and other details. [That is why] they are missing the senior citizens grant,” Mr Gidudu said.
“The process of changing one’s details on the national ID is laborious and expensive for an older person,” he added.
Ms Sight Akatukunda, a spokesperson for the ESP, said at the inception of the social grant programme, the ministry of Gender used to pay using MTN mobile money and other paypal centres, but the system became unreliable.
“We then embraced the registration for National IDs which we now use to verify the age of the beneficiaries. We have a contractual agreement with banks that pay the elderly persons. We used to pay them through Post Bank and their contract expired in March last year, so Centenary Bank won the bid for the next three years,” she said.
The bank uses the NIN numbers to open accounts for the elderly.
“The bank is a more reliable way for these people to receive the money. The accounts opened for the elderly persons do not have any charges on them. Even the withdrawal fees are not borne by the beneficiary,” Ms Akatukunda said.
The SAGE programme currently reaches 332,793 older persons countrywide.
Govt starts elderly id registration exercise
The Gender ministry and that of Internal Affairs are undertaking a remedial NIRA registration exercise specifically targeting older persons. The exercise, which started on Monday, will help capture all those who have not registered for the National ID.
“The affected older persons are advised to look out for information on when this registration will take place in their district and locality. During this exercise, the Ministry of Gender, the Ministry of Internal Affairs/NIRA will work with the district local governments to schedule the remedial registration exercise,” Mr Dominic Gidudu Mafwabi, the Minister of State for Elderly Affairs, said. The local governments are expected to mobilise the affected elderly people to turn up on designated days and times so that their details can be taken, and their IDs prepared and issued at a later date.