The country might see the same confusion with money transfers
as seen with relief food distribution to the vulnerable people during the
initial countrywide lock down instituted to halt further transmission of
COVID-19, experts predict.
Following the new lockdown measures issued by the President
on Friday locking up transport and some businesses, the Office of the Prime
Minister (OPM) announced on Sunday that they will be sending money to
vulnerable groups to cater for their food needs for the 42 days that the
country will remain under lock.
While modalities of how the exercise will be implemented are still pending as Julius Mucunguzi, the OPM spokesperson tells URN, experts say
they will face a challenge of identifying the right beneficiaries of the
Nathan Isabirye, a research fellow based at the Makerere
University School of Public Health told URN on Monday that while money would be
ideal for the vulnerable poor to make independent choices on what foods they should eat, they are to face hurdles identifying the person in need.
He said while telecoms can provide some clue, majority of
the people use two or more networks for their mobile money transactions
something that risks double benefit for some at the expense of others.
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Isabirye who did a study on the previous relief food distribution,
its impact and lessons for the country says the fact that government used security
operatives in distribution of food and using OPM as the sole source of food was
Reports of misuse of funds for the food and poor quality
food were reported both in the media and highlighted in the Auditor General’s
report. They showed that items valued at Shs55.8 billion which were distributed
by OPM couldn’t be verified if they were actually purchased as they lacked receipts.
On her part, Agnes Kirabo, the Executive Director Nutrition
Advocacy Organization Food Rights Alliance (FRA) has welcomed the change in
strategy to allow people get cash but worries that the country operates without
a vulnerability register which shows the number of people that are needy.
The risk of swindling the money has been redistributed from
having a few individuals supplying substandard food and earning high from it,
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Isabirye recommends using local council leaders to record
phone numbers of family heads that can receive the mobile money.
However, Mucunguzi says details of implementation of the
cash rations will be given after a meeting of the task force which will be held
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Before this meeting happens, Prime Minister Robina Nabbanja revealed
that they are considering using both mobile money and voucher system for the
vulnerable poor who don’t have registered phone lines. It has not yet been explained how the voucher system will work.