UGANDA’S ELDERLY POPULATION TO DOUBLE TO 2.5M BY 2040

KAMPALA, The population of older persons (60 years and above) in Uganda will double to 2.5 million by the year 2040, projections by the gender ministry show, highlighting a need for a robust social protection system.

Globally, the number of older persons is expected to double, from 841 million in 2013 to over 2 billion by 2050, during which time it will have exceeded that of children below 14 years.

Ahead of celebrations to mark the International Day of Older Persons on Sunday, the minister of state for gender and culture, Peace Mutuuzo said the Government would ensure older persons are not left behind in the country's development.

She alluded to interventions including the Senior Citizens Grant, older persons (60 years and above) in selected districts who get monthly stipends to improve their living conditions.

Each of the beneficiaries receives sh25,000 every month (about $8). The scheme was designed to reduce old age poverty by providing a minimum level of income security.

The pilot phase of the scheme initially covered 15 districts, but has since expanded to cover 47 districts countrywide over the last five years, reaching at least 151,000 households.

This year's national celebrations to mark the International Day of Older Persons will be held at Saza Grounds in Kiboga district under the theme 'Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.'

Kiboga, the host district is one of the beneficiaries where performance of the pension scheme for the elderly has been ranked highly, according to the gender ministry.

Government needs about sh232b every year to sustain a pension scheme for the elderly poor as the country's ageing population is set to double by the year 2040.

Since its inception in 2010, the government programme has largely been supported by the UK's Department for International Development DFID/UKAID and Irish Aid.

However, earlier this year, the donors expressed said they were reviewing funding for the second phase of the programme over government's persistent failure to fulfill its commitments.

Both the Government and the donors were supposed to contribute 50% of funds for the programme. However, in the financial year 2015/16, government released sh5.6b instead of the sh9b.

By the end of the fourth quarter in financial year 2016/17, only s3.7b of the s7.59b had been released while the budget for the current financial year was passed without additional allocations to the project.

The pilot phase of the scheme initially covered 15 districts, but has since expanded to cover 47 districts countrywide over the last five years, reaching at least 151,000 households.

The donors had committed to provide 65.5 (sh313b) for second five-year phase of the Expanding Social Protection Programme between 2015-2020 under which the elderly pension scheme falls.

However, the finance minister, Matia Kasaija, said in June that the Government had no money to allocate to the programme due to competing priorities, and that focus was on infrastructure projects.

In an interview with New Vision, Peace Mutuuzo, the minister of state for gender and culture said the Government was still consulting partners about funding for the scheme.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK