Tongues are wagging in our neighbourhood about the feasibility of the proposed Covid-19 lock down cash relief via mobile money. Some are weary about the implications of one’s mobile phone number being registered so as to receive assistance through it.
After all, mobile phone numbers are tied to National Identification Numbers, bank accounts, and other sensitive personal facets.
Some are insinuating that vulnerable persons may shy away from accessing help via mobile phones, in order to avoid their personal data being captured and potentially be misused in the future. But, that is a story for another day.
The question of how those making the determination are going to arrive at the right amount of cash to give as relief aid, is the more intriguing now. Are they making scientific calculations based on empirical data, for example, that is resident with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS)?
Indeed, are they basing on the most recent calculations of Uganda’s poverty line by UBOS?
Two years ago, as I was preparing to conduct a training workshop on understanding poverty in rural Uganda, I found a very useful publication by the John Paul II Justice & Peace Centre, titled:
“The Kampala Basic Needs Basket – Cost of a Basic Needs Basket in Six Informal Settlements.”
In that publication, was explained how a poverty line is calculated, accompanied with useful information on the cost of basic needs for Kampala thus:
Obviously, this is old data, but we can use it as a basis to infer that if the costs then were Ug. shs. 361,700; using what we know about one food item, sugar, for example, the likely cost of the Kampala basic needs basket is now at least double that of 2007, at Ug. shs. 723,400.
Is it realistic for us to expect the government to pay each beneficiary household, over seven hundred thousand shillings, which is much more than it pays primary and secondary school teachers as salary per month?
How many beneficiaries will get that cash bonaza?
Let us wait and see if we are mistaken that it is smells fishy.