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met the Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection at Parliament on Friday, 17th August, 2012 with the aim of lobbying government to allocate more funds for ongoing Social Protection Programmes, especially the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE). The meeting; chaired by Hon. Flavia Kabahende; was attended by 15 Members of Parliament and 32 representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). In his brief remarks, Dr Tavengwa Nhongo, the Executive Director of the APSP, began on a light note congratulating Uganda for winning the gold medal in the marathon during the London Olympics. He also took the opportunity to thank the Parliamentary Forum for agreeing to meet the CSO’s and for listening to their concerns. He pointed out that Social Protection is a right, as enshrined in international and continental declarations, conventions and charters, that include the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights and the 1981 African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. He mentioned that the Social Protection discourse was talking place in nearly 40 countries of Africa but countries were at different levels of implementation of programmes, commending the Ugandans for the great strides they have taken in implementing the programmes in the different districts.

He noted that the implementation of programmes on SP and the provision of government funding was a matter of political will. Every government can afford to put in place some Social Protection programmes for their citizens. He gave examples of Lesotho, Zambia, Kenya and Rwanda where governments were making commendable strides in setting up programmes for their people. He noted that Lesotho, for instance, implemented their programme against the advice of international donors in 2004 and continues to manage it up to now. Alfred Nuamanya, the Chairman of the Uganda Platform for Social Protection, outlined the concerns of Ugandan CSO’s which were contained in the statement that had been issued in the print and electronic media. All the Parliamentarians present agreed that Social Protection was important and that the government should make urgent steps to implement programmes. They resolved to lobby their colleagues, Ministers and His Excellency, the President to seek ways in which funding for the ongoing SAGE can be secured and increased with the aim of rolling out nationally.

 

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