A Total of 11,798,600 million Ugandan children are at the verge of dying hunger and pneumonia due to lack of food and accommodation, advocates for inclusive social protection have warned.
While speaking at national dialogue on social protection in Kampala on Tuesday, David Tumwesigye, a Policy and Advocacy officer at Expansion of Social Protection at Gender Ministry on Tuesday, shared statistics indicating that 38 per cent of children between 6-17 years have one meal a day a day while others eat once in two days.
Mr Tumwesigye added that 24 per cent of children between 0-4 years completely lack food and decent accommodation, giving such figures as reason why 36 of 1000 children die before the age of five while those who survive death are underweight or stunted.
The 2014 statistics by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicate 55 per cent of Uganda population is below the age 18.
Mr Tumwesigye said the situation have been worsened by the dry spell that has hit the country hard warning that is action is not taken many children are likely to die or have permanent effects on their health.
The dialogue was organized by government and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to discuss means of extending Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE)to vulnerable children. The participants agreed to have SAGE extended to poverty and famine stricken areas to save vulnerable children.
Mr Tumwesigye said the situation was alarming especially in districts not covered by SAGE Programme among others Dokolo, Luuka, Pallisa, Gulu, Kitgum, Namayingo and Bulambuli
“If we extend citizen protection grants to areas affected by famine and drought, we shall have saved millions of lives that are at risk of dying of famine at any time,” Mr Tumwesigye said.
SAGE is currently targets elder persons above 60 years in 15 districts among others include Kyegegwa, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi, Katakwi, Zombo, Kaberamaido, and Moroto. The elderly are given a Shs25000 monthly upkeep token which activists want to be extended to children.
Mr Tumwesigye said government should allocate at least Shs10000 per month for children living in poverty and famine ravaged areas purposely to enable them access food, health and education services.
Mr Hebert Baryeyabwe, a retired commissioner for disability and elderly, said SAGE extension to children would not only save the children’s lives but also help the country achieves Sustainable Development Goals.
“Extending SAGE program to vulnerable children and families would be key to the attainment of SDGs. Because this program would promote food safety, poverty, health and access to education,” Mr Baryeyabwe said.
Governments are expected to achieve SDGs by 2030 which include zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth and institutions.