Without the long-promised cash and livestock government help coming, the elders’ savings and credit cooperative society (SACCO) in the Western District of Hoima is steeped in a struggle for survival.
Israel Kabyanga, the secretary of the Hoima District Elderly Persons’ Saving and Credit Cooperative Society, told theCooperator that the SACCO is limping and troubled for two years since its rollout in 2019.
According to Kabyanga, the SACCO was formed at the urging of the Ministry of Gender and Social Development. He said the government promised to provide quality breeds of goats, piggery, poultry, and cows to members.
He said the government also promised to give Shs 60 million to support the SACCO projects.
The SACCO with about 180 members has saved Shs 3 million to date, he said.
Kabyanga said they have waited for the government to deliver on its pledges in vain.
“Government told us to form a SACCO as older persons so that they can support us, we responded to the call and formed it, we registered it and they gave us a probation certificate and we are expecting to get a permanent certificate in June this year,” he said, adding that they have waited for the support in vain.
“Whenever we inquire about the issue, officials from the Ministry of Gender always tell us that things were disrupted by COVID-19 but we continue to request the government to expedite the release of the promised support to boost our SACCO so that we can help older persons uplift their household income,” he added.
Kabyanga also said the ministry had promised to deliver over 50 piglets through Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) but that has not happened.
“We are prepared to receive the piglets. Last month we had a meeting with our Hoima city elderly councilor Edward Isingoma and he gave us a place (shelter) to keep the animals,” he said.
Muhamad Makidadi, the SACCO vice-chairperson, said the growth of members is hampered by the lack of income-generating activities.
“Our saving for each member starts with Shs 10,000 while shares are strictly worth Shs 20,000 but our members are not saving because most of them have no serious income-generating activities and the situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 lockdown,” he said.
He said the SACCO Chairman William Kyahurwa died last year leaving a leadership vacuum. He said members are organizing to appoint another.
Peter Nyakatura, a SACCO member, said the government should equip SACCO leaders and members with managerial skills and help them identify friendly enterprises to help elderly persons improve their livelihood.
Nyakatura said there is a misconception that elders are poor and therefore don’t qualify to borrow money from financial institutions.
“You refuse to give an elder person a loan and then you give it to his son who has no collateral, it’s high time the government initiated what we call grant facilitation, here you give the project to the old man and his next of kin (son) takes the responsibility of managing the project. I found this working in South Africa, Zambia, and other countries,” he said, adding that such an initiative would save elders from begging.
Col. Andrew Kaahwa, the coordinator for OWC in the Hoima district, said the SACCO was supposed to get animals but didn’t make the list for beneficiaries of piglets recently.
“Recently we supplied piglets but they missed out on the list, however, if they applied on the special way, they will receive them any time, let them be patient,” he advised.
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