KAMPALA – Poverty among families that benefit from the monthly government Senior Citizens Grant has reduced, a new assessment has revealed.
The study findings show that in households receiving the grants, poverty reduced by 19 percentage points and household expenditure increased by 33 percent.
The study undertaken by UK based consulting firm, Development Pathways, shows that many older persons and their families use the income from the social pension to invest in productive assets such as livestock and to become active in the labour force.
It was also found that grants reduced child labour among benefiting households and improved education outcomes among benefiting households as well as improved education outcomes among children living with older persons who receive the grant.
25,000 monthly grants
For the last eight years, the government, through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development with development partners, provides monthly grants of Shs25,000 to older persons aged 65 and above but 60 years in case of Karamoja.
The SCG is a social protection intervention intended to provide income security to older persons where a Shs25,000 is delivered to each of the 260,000 beneficiaries under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) programme.
“We detected improvements in the intake of food, with an increase in the share of recipients eating at least two meals per day. The SCG improved material well-being. It caused a significant increase in recipients’ ability to purchase clothing and personal hygiene items such as soap, as well as increasing ownership of goods such as mobile telephones,” reads the report.
The study assessed the impact of the grant on the well being of the older persons and their households looking at poverty, material deprivation, livelihoods and productive assets. It also assessed the quality of food and nutrition by looking at what people ate and how often.
Stephen Kasaija, the head of Programme Management Unit at the Expanding Social Protection Programme in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development said that the study is unique because it covers the SCG’s impact on beneficiaries over 6 years of implementation.
He said the study uses the most recent available national data from 2014 census and 2017 household surveys.
“It is therefore more current and robust and covers a longer timeframe than the ones previously carried out,” Mr Kasaija said.
Shs244 billion disbursed
Mr Bjourn Gelders, one of the authors of the report said: “This is the first quantitative study to show the effects of the SCG on employment, child labour and education outcomes.”
According to Mr Gelders, the SCG appears to enable some older persons to stay active longer, “the pension also brings positive benefits to children co-residing with older people, it reduces the prevalence of child labour and increases the average number of grades completed by school-age children.”
Since its inception, SAGE has disbursed more than Shs244 billion to more than 191,000 beneficiaries in 61 districts in monthly grants.
By 2020, the budget for the programme is expected to cover 55 out of 112 districts which call for more commitment from government on the planned phased rollout of the SAGE programme.
By David Sseguya