The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Betty Amongi, has highlighted the need for government to increase funding for the social protection sector, building on the foundation set up by the development partners such as FCDO and Irish Aid.
The Minister made the remarks while speaking at the stakeholder event organized to celebrate 12 years of partnership in implementation of the Expanding Social Protection Programme, at Kampala Serena Hotel.
Amongi said that Government is committed to ensuring sustainability of the SAGE Programme.
“Social protection coverage along the lifecycle remains low in the country and needed scaling up. We will continue to champion the cause to ensure that government progressively increases the budget for social protection,” Among said.
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Aggrey Kibenge commended the UKAid and Irish Aid for working with the Ministry to implement SAGE, since the Programme was initiated in 2010.
“With your financial and technical support over the years, the SAGE scheme has evolved to become a national Programme and is now a flagship for the advancement of the social protection agenda in the country.” Kibenge said.
The Development Director, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Philip Smith observed that UK has so far invested a total of over Shs425 billion (£96m) for SAGE implementation for the last 12 years.
Smith said that he is privileged to have been part of the ground-breaking journey that has transformed the lives of thousands of elderly persons in Uganda pledging to continue engagement with government to promote the social protection sector.
“UK will remain engaged in the sector, using our expertise, experience, and rich evidence gathered from UK supported interventions across the globe. We will continue our close working partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, to ensure that Uganda’s gains in social protection are consolidated,” Smith said.
Under the SAGE scheme, Government provides the Senior Citizens Grant (SCG) to older persons who are 80 years and above, across the country. Eligible beneficiaries receive Shs 25,000 per month, as a form of direct income support.
The Government of Uganda has this FY 2022/23 allocated 120.7Bn towards the implementation of the Programme. Over 332,000 beneficiaries are active on the SAGE payroll.
Testimonies from older persons indicate that with the income support, beneficiaries have been able to access basic household needs, health care services, payment of school fees and investment in small-scale farming activities to generate additional income, among other benefits.
Beneficiaries however are demanding for an increase in the value of the grant, which has been affected by inflation.