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May 24, 2024
Kampala Daily

Iganga woman, 92, misses SAGE funds after being declared dead

A 92-year-old woman has gone without receiving funds from the Social Assistance Grant for the Elderly program (SAGE) for 15 months after being mistakenly declared dead early last year.

Zewulence Namulondo is a resident of Nawandala village in Nawandala sub-county, Iganga district,

Namulondo, who walks approximately five kilometers from her village to Nawandala sub-county where the funds are disbursed, first learned of the error in February last year when the SAGE teams were issuing payments of Shillings 75,000 in April. Despite promises to rectify the issue and clear her arrears of Shillings 225,000, Namulondo was disappointed when the same team issued funds for nine months in December, yet she was still excluded due to the system’s confirmation of her death.

She has also missed out on funds for January, February, and March 2024, as the SAGE system continues to erroneously confirm her death. Despite efforts by SAGE teams to rectify the situation by taking her photographs, noting her national identification number, and extracting fingerprints, Namulondo’s access to essential funds for medication and daily necessities remains blocked.

Living with five grandchildren, Namulondo relies on the SAGE funds not only for medical expenses but also to purchase essential items such as soap, sugar, and vegetables. Despite attempts to engage stakeholders overseeing the SAGE program, including the resident district commissioner, no progress has been made in resolving her case.

David Mutogeera, the LC II chairperson of Bugongo parish responsible for supervising the SAGE program, suspects foul play, noting that Namulondo has been a consistent beneficiary since the program’s inception in 2016. He questions how she could be declared dead without his knowledge, as he regularly updates district authorities on the welfare of beneficiaries.

“I visit all SAGE beneficiaries every month and I update the district authorities about their wellbeing. This raises suspicion on how another person could be believed for declaring Namulondo dead without my input, yet I provide them with updates about these older persons every month,” he says.

An anonymous official involved in the SAGE program in Iganga district acknowledged the persistence of the issue, despite efforts to update the system at central servers. Wandera Sadala, the Iganga RDC, assured that Namulondo’s case had been forwarded to the district SAGE focal person for resolution, promising to follow up for a timely conclusion.

“I am aware of this matter and I surely follow it up to its logical conclusion in the shortest time possible,” he says. The SAGE program issues funds in sequences of three, six, or nine months to enable elderly individuals to plan and purchase necessities effectively, recognizing that the monthly stipend of 25,000 Shillings may not adequately cover their needs.

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