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Elderly In Karamoja Demand Pay Rise To Deal With High Cost Of Living

Elderly persons in Karamoja subregion under the Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) program have called for an increase in their monthly stipend in response to the mounting cost of living.

They are 18,808 active beneficiaries of the program countrywide comprising 12,578 females and 6230 males. Each beneficiary is entitled to Shillings 25,000 but they often receive a lump sum of Shillings 150,000 after every six months.

However, the elders in Karamoja say that they are affected by the ever-increasing cost of living associated with insecurity and hunger that has continued pounding the region. They are also concerned about the inability of the centenary bank in managing their payment.

Micheal Lokut, an elder in Lopukoi village Matany Town council Napak, says that although the program has improved his life, the high prices of food are costing him a lot of money, and yet there are other essential commodities needed in the family.

Lokut noted that most of the elders have been abandoned in the houses as energetic family members who used to care for them migrate to other places to look for food.

“I’m happy that the government has sent us the money, at least I can also buy my own food but the money is not enough compared to the demands I have,’’ Lokut said.

Teko Lowal, another beneficiary from the same village said the late payments have also affected their budget because the money comes when they have accumulated so many debts and they end up spending it to clear debts. Lowal noted that the government should at least consider doubling the monthly stipend to enable them to meet their needs.

She accused the bank employees of harassing them and tossing them around when it was time for payments. ‘’The whole process has been complicated in the centenary bank, yet we used to receive our money via Mobile money then later Postbank and it was convenient, centenary is overstressing us,’’ Lowal lamented.

Despite the challenges Elders go through to access the monthly stipend, two beneficiaries in the Ngoleriet sub-county in Napak district were able to construct semi-permanent houses for themselves out of the savings from SAGE grants. Penina Korobe and Martha Angella, both residents of Lokalumok village in Ngoloriet sub-county told URN that they were able to save 20,000 Shillings monthly since its inception 8 years ago.

Amina Longok, the LC1 of Lokalumok village said they tasked every beneficiary to ensure that they save their money for constructing houses after realizing that most of them were sleeping in depilated grass thatched houses.

‘’We noticed that these elders are weak and cannot look for the grass each year for construction, then we advised them to start saving but others refused, only these two mamas complied and you can see their success,” Longok said.

Samuel Echodu, the National Coordinator for Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE) program said that they are working closely with the bank to address the issues of payment delays and improve on the services at the pay point centers.

Echodu also noted that demanding a pay rise is a good proposal that has already been handled at the policy level and they are waiting for feedback. Echodu says that the ministry of gender, labor, and social development is committed to tackling poverty among the elderly and many plans have been designed to improve on the services.

-URN

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