February 28, 2024

How ghosts returned to haunt COVID cash relief, Premier Nabbanja puzzled

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Families in Kisenyi Village Urban Council 1 in Bwaise, Kawempe Division, a suburb of Kampala, receive food from Uganda People’s Defence Forces on April 4, 2020. PHOTO/ ABUBAKER LUBOWA

The ghosts in government food distribution exercise have returned to haunt Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja’s Covid cash relief in the second lockdown.

Although government promised to give Shs100,000 each to a total of 501,107 people affected by the lockdown, 34,000 vulnerable people have not received the money, just hours to the end of the 42-day movement restrictions.  

There were cases of double payment to a tune of Shs600 million, glaring glitches in the selection of the beneficiaries and inconsistencies in registration process.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ms Anita Among, has since instructed the Public Accounts Committee to scrutinise the list of the beneficiaries.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Mr Aggrey Kibenge, said the 34,000 are yet to receive their money because their data had queries.

On June 20, Ms Nabbanja announced that Ugandans whose businesses have been affected would be given the cash to sustain their families.

However, the excitement was short-lived when the government said it was only targeting 16 groups from cities and municipalities.

A number of politicians across the country protested the move, saying it had locked out many vulnerable people, adding that the money was too little to sustain the families for 42 days.

Many people asked the government to resort to food distribution after confusion ensued during the registration of beneficiaries. When President Museveni imposed the first lockdown in March last year, the government embarked on a door-to-door food distribution targeting 1.8 million Ugandans.

Each beneficiary received 6kg of maize flour, 3kg of beans and salt, while lactating mothers and the sick received 2kgs of powdered milk and 2kgs of sugar.

Some politicians say the cash distribution plan wasn’t effective, and opted to distribute food items in their constituency.

During Eid ul-Adha prayers last week, leaders in the Muslim community advised government to revert to the old plan. “We thank the government for putting up measures to assist the vulnerable by giving them cash this time [but] it has not impacted our needy people on the ground. It is our desire that this is reversed, let’s take food door-to-door to the vulnerable as army and police did in the first lockdown,” Mufti Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje said.

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago also suggested that the government should resort to food distribution but upgrade to rice, maize flour and beans as opposed to only giving maize flour.

In the aftermath of the first lockdown, experts recommended that better planning and a decentralised food distribution channel be adopted.

Whereas the exercise had issues with the quality of food, beneficiaries had received food in two weeks’ time.

Source: Daily Monitor

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