Income security for all Ugandans in old age

Income security for all Ugandans in old age

Uganda has a rich tradition of care and respect for the elderly. But, as in all societies, this informal system of support – while still functioning for some – is, for many others, beginning to weaken as a result of poverty, migration, urbanisation and the impact of HIV and AIDs. In response, the government of Uganda – with support from the United Kingdom, Ireland and UNICEF – has taken the first steps in building a pension system for every citizen, with the aim of ensuring that no older person has to live in abject poverty. A pilot scheme – known as the Senior Citizens’ Grant (SCG) – is currently being established in 14 Districts to assess the feasibility of providing every older person with a regular and secure cash income. If successful, the government is considering expanding the scheme across Uganda.

This paper will discuss the value of establishing a universal pension in Uganda. It will begin by considering the challenges currently facing the nation’s older citizens, before moving on to an overview of universal pensions in other developing countries. The paper will examine the evidence on the impacts of these pensions, before briefly describing the SCG and assessing its potential benefits and costs if it were to be expanded to all older citizens. Finally, the paper will argue that it is important to ensure that the pension is accessible to all older people and that its implementation would be a popular and welcome initiative.