The daughter of a Senior Citizen Grant (SCG) beneficiary bathing her son in Nyaravur sub-county, Nebbi District.

© Alex Bagabo 2012 / ODI

“The distance to the pay point is quite far for our age. We incur high costs to reach the pay points”
— Female focus group participant, Kaberamaido

The cash transfer programme 

The Senior Citizen Grant (SCG) is a component of the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) – a five-year pilot programme (initiated in March 2011) to provide regular cash transfers to over 95,000 vulnerable households with the aim to reduce chronic poverty and improve life chances for poor men, women and children. The SCG provides an unconditional monthly cash transfer of UGX 24,000 (about $8.70) to older people aged 65 years and above (60 years and above in the Karamoja region). It is designed to reduce old age poverty by providing a minimum level of income security to all older people.

Key findings

  • In addition to enabling beneficiaries to meet basic needs for themselves and their families, the transfers have also facilitated productive investments, savings and access to credit.
  • Cash transfers here have enhanced beneficiaries’ feelings of self-worth and dignity while strengthening their sense of social connectedness and their sense of value within their family and community.
  • Beneficiaries’ particularly appreciated the transparency of the targeting system and eligibility criteria.
  • There were some challenges, including long travel distances to pay points, names sometimes missing from beneficiary lists and a shortage of field staff at district level.

Top recommendations

  • Improve programme management and delivery systems by bringing pay points closer to beneficiaries, addressing staffing gaps and providing targeted training for local government staff.
  • Increase value of the cash transfers to enable recipients to exit poverty.
  • Decrease the current age of eligibility (65 years) to avoid excluding many poor and vulnerable older people.
  • Ensure closer integration with complementary services
  • Strengthen monitoring, evaluation and governance mechanisms
  • Ensure sustainability through the continued and substantive commitment and investment by the Ugandan Government.

Key facts 

  • The percentage of people living in poverty has fallen from 56% in 1992/93 to around 25% in 2009/10. However, the percentage of the non-poor who are insecure has increased from 34% in 1992/93 to 43% in 2009/10.
  • Northern Uganda still has the highest level of poverty, accounting for 48% of people who are chronically poor.
  • Vulnerable groups tend to have higher rates of poverty than the national average. For example, households with an older person (above 65 years) have a poverty incidence of almost 29% compared with 25% for all households. 31% of orphans and 30% of households with at least one severely or partially disabled member are living in poverty.