By Solomon Hamala
National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) has been blamed for causing many would-be beneficiaries of Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) to miss out in Iganga.
That the attack on NIRA came from the Deputy RDC Iganga on Monday 26th April 2021 during the handover of food items and clothes to 178 elderly Muslim widows and the disadvantaged. The function took place at Art Base Charity Group offices along Kaliro road in Iganga Municipality.
Paul Ogallo said majority of the elderly persons who are eligible beneficiaries had details of their age lowered by officials of the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA).
He revealed that names of 678 elderly persons who had earlier missed out on the SAGE in Iganga district have been submitted to the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development for consideration next financial year.
“Most of these people are entitled to benefit from SAGE funds but were left out after some people within NIRA who are responsible for entering data mistakenly or deliberately lowered their age,” he said.
Ogallo urged elderly persons to utilize SAGE funds effectively by setting up income generating activities to ensure they support their families and dependants instead of spending it recklessly on alcohol.
“We expect you to start up some small businesses nearby your homes instead of spending aimlessly and later resort to begging,” he said.
He said elderly persons In Uganda are currently tasked with responsibility of taking care of their grandchildren besides need money to cater for domestic needs like buying food, paraffin.
Earlier, a group of over 400 elderly persons stormed the offices of the resident district commissioner Iganga, Thomas Matende protesting the decision by NIRA to lower their age saying this has denied them chance to benefit from the SAGE program.
Meanwhile, the Town Clerk Northern division, Hussein Kato appealed to government to reduce on the age of beneficiaries of SAGE program from 80 years to 60.
“Most of our people are dying at an early age due to bad feeding habits and cannot make it to that age of 80,” he said.
Kato urged members of the public to donate to elderly persons in their areas to enable them live comfortably instead of relying on handouts from well-wishers through begging on streets.
He said there is need for government to consider revising an increment in SAGE monthly grants from shillings 25,000 to 40,000 considering the current inflation.
“Prices of goods are increasing daily yet the grants are static,” he said.
The LC 3 chairperson elect for Northern division, Mohamed Katamba hailed Art base charity group for the support towards aiding elderly persons in the district.
The director Art base charity group, Ali Kayanja said majority of elderly persons are living in pathetic conditions and are vulnerable as a result of biting poverty in rural areas.
Kayanja urged well-wishers to offer support to the elderly and disadvantaged persons to ensure they live comfortably and prolong their life spans.