Africa needs to intensify efforts to put in place effective mechanisms that will cater for the needs of its older population, says William Muhwava, Chief of the Population and Youth Section in the Economic Commission for Africa’s Social Development Policy Division.
Addressing participants attending a two-day expert group meeting for the third review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing in Africa (MIPAA), Mr. Muhwava, who spoke on behalf of his Director, Thokozile Ruzvidzo, said Africa needs to put in place policies that will ensure that the rights of its older people are catered for and that those who would have contributed to the well-being of their countries were not neglected in old age.
“As such, advocacy efforts are needed to improve the adaptation and domestication of policies for older person and encourage appropriate consultations with older people in these processes,” he said.
Mr. Muhwava said there was need for continuous advocacy to ensure the allocation of resources for the implementation of commitments by member States regarding older people.
The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and the Political Declaration, adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in April 2002, marked a turning point in how the world addresses the key challenge of building a society for all ages.
The plan offers a bold new agenda for handling the issue of ageing in the 21st-century and focuses on three priority areas: older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age; and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.
Mr. Muhwava said while Africa is often described as the continent with the youngest population, the age structure in the region was changing gradually, adding at the ECA, they continue to stress the fact that ageing is going to be a crucial part of Africa’s development framework.
“ECA recognizes that older people have their vulnerabilities, but also have their capabilities. Ageing issues until recently were considered a low priority and more focus was placed for a long time on addressing challenges of young people rather than addressing older persons’ development challenges,” he said.
Mr. Muhwava added the ECA was prioritizing ageing issues in its programmes and would continue to work with member States to help them craft policies that will cater for the needs of their older people.
Most older people in Africa are supported through their families, a practice Mr. Muhwava said would no longer hold as a means of social security at the rate at which ageing was taking place on the continent. He said governments should urgently consider expanding national pension coverage for older persons.
“Overall, apart from children and persons with disabilities, older persons are the social group most vulnerable to many social challenges facing Africa, particularly poverty, food insecurity, violence, inadequate social welfare services and civil strife,” he said.
Since its adoption, MIPAA has undergone review and appraisal every five years and Mr. Muhwava pledged ECA support in ensuring that its work on older persons, including the MIPAA review process, were aligned with international development frameworks.
The experts will in the next two days review the implementation of MIPAA on the continent and identify gaps and emerging issues that need to be addressed. They will suggest specific recommendations to accelerate MIPAA implementation in Africa. Findings under review suggest Africa has made progress in policy formulation but still has a long way to go in implementation.
Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).