The Politics of Promoting Social Protection in Uganda: A Case of the Cash Transfer Scheme for Elderly People

Authors: Angucia, M., & Katusiimeh, M. W.
Year: 2015
Type: Grantee publication – working paper

This study examines the different actors and their roles in shaping policy on social protection (SP) in Uganda by examining the experiences with the Senior Citizens Grant (SCG) of the Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment (SAGE)—a cash transfer programme for elderly people that is at a pilot stage.

Data were derived from a review of key documents and published literature on social protection in Uganda supported by semi-structured interviews, a survey and focus group discussions with SCG beneficiaries, political actors, technocrats and members of the civil society. Study findings show that there is a visible effort by the government to work towards a coordinated approach to social protection.

Donors are key in the implementation and financing of social protection in Uganda, and also in policy advocacy and influence. Implementation of cash transfers to the elderly is changing the perceptions of some influential groups including the political elite previously sceptical of cash handouts. However, key sections of the elite especially in the Ministry of Finance are still sceptical about the government’s capacity to finance a national rollout of the cash transfer programme.

The priority of government, according to the National Development Plan, favours infrastructural and energy sectors and it is highly unlikely that in the short to medium term resources may be found to rollout the universal social protection schemes countrywide. However, studies indicate that if government chooses, social pensions can be rolled out in Uganda to every senior citizen (65+) without re-prioritising existing spending. Amidst challenges of a patronage political system, social protection could gain traction in Uganda if a political decision is made for wealth redistribution other than the current pro-growth policies.

Key words: social protection, elderly, cash transfers, political economy, neopatrimonialism

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