Lifestyle October 11, 2016 at 01:01 pm

Uganda’s Monthly Cash Grants Transform the Lives of its Elderly

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

Fredrick Ngugi October 11, 2016 at 01:01 pm

October 11, 2016 at 01:01 pm | Lifestyle

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni aids an elderly woman to the queue. Photo Credit: Africa News Week

The government of Uganda is doing its part to help the country’s increasing elderly population, by offering them a monthly cash grant as part of the Expanding Social Protection Program (ESP). The program has received support from Irish Aid and the UK Department for International Development in order to help the elderly meet their basic needs, while teaching them how to invest further to improve their income security.

An older couple from Baakijjulula village in central Uganda told the Guardian that the monthly grant of 25,000 Ugandan shillings (£5.60), has totally changed their lives.

“We had no money to spend. The house was very weak. It leaked when it rained. This [new house] is very good. We are now okay,” Eseli Nambi said.

The couple, who don’t have children, are among the more than 150,000 Ugandans who are benefiting from the ESP initiative.

Improved Quality of Life

Through the program, the government hopes to address the plight of hundreds of thousands of Ugandans aged 65 and above.

The project, which was started in 2010, is now available in 40 districts across Uganda, with many people who were initially skeptical now offering their support.

According to the Guardian, research shows that the small stipend given to senior citizens each month is having a “big impact,” with some experts saying that it’s helping address serious issues, such as extreme poverty and vulnerability of the elderly, especially in rural areas.

“People who used to have one meal a day say they can have three meals a day. The quality of the food has improved as they buy more nutritious foods,” ESP Director Stephen Kasaija explained to the Guardian.

Poverty Situation in Uganda

According to the Rural Poverty Portal (RPP), Uganda is making tremendous progress in reducing poverty in the rural areas. The portal website, which is run by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), reports a drop in poverty from 56 percent in 1992 to 24.5 percent in 2009.

However, the population growth in Uganda has seen the number of poor people in the country rise, as poverty remains one of the many problems the country continues to grapple with.

RPP claims that at least 27 percent of people living in the rural parts of Uganda still live below the national rural poverty line.

Most of them are small-scale farmers who lack access to proper training  and technology to help them improve their food production.

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