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Older persons demand inclusion in the Parish Development Model

LIRA – Older persons in Lira district, have called upon the government for inclusion in the Parish Development Model and Emyooga programme.

They say they are able and still economically productive more than the youth and the government should consider including them in the programme.

The representative of the older persons to the district council, Jeje Odongo, made the call to the State Minister for Elderly Affairs, Dominic Mafwabi Gidudu during a field monitoring stakeholders meeting on Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) programme.

“We should be considered in programmes like the Parish Development Model and others because we are capable and knowledgeable on how to utilize money,” said Odongo.

He also said they are senior citizens and consultants of this country.

In this financial year 2021/2022, parliament appropriated Shs200b towards the Parish Development Model. It was an attempt by the government to roll out the programme to reduce poverty at the grassroots. And also help the community to graduate from subsistence economy to commercial production.

Odongo said the government should consider withdrawing youth livelihood funds programmes and redirect it to older persons.

“They are misusing the money, let that money be withdrawn and given to us,” he explained.

“On the SAGE grant, we are requesting the government to reduce the age of beneficiaries from 80 years down to 65 so that more vulnerable older persons are enrolled,” he added.

The government through support from the Department for International development (DFID) and Irish Aid started the SAGE programme in 2010 by piloting in 15 districts. Last year (2020) a nationwide rollout was launched by President Museveni under the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development (MGLSD).

Initially, it targeted older persons at the age of 65 and above giving them a monthly payment of Shs 25, 000 but three years ago, the age for the beneficiaries was increased to 80.

According to the report availed to the minister, by the District Community Development Officer (CDO), Christine Anono, at least 3,100 benefited and 13 beneficiaries passed on.

Geto Amule, 88, one of the beneficiaries in Ogur sub-county, applauds the government for the programme but says long distance to the pay station is hindering some of them from receiving the money.

“Like me I come from Lira town and it is uneasy to travel from there up to here. I request that I should be transferred to a nearby pay point,” he says.

Gidudu advised them to applaud President Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government to recognize older persons and start putting a smile on their face.

“As we celebrate with our older persons the achievement of SAGE, I want to appreciate our partners for the technical and financial support extended to the ministry,” he said.

“This grant which currently gives out Shs 25,000 to each beneficiary per month, will undoubtedly grow as resource envelopes grow,” he adds.

“The stipend per month will increase and the cutoff age will be lowered,” he explains.

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