African campaigners root for inclusion of older persons in sustainability agenda

An older person from Ethiopia
An older person

The rapidly growing population of older persons in Africa should be engaged in the formulation of policies and programs aimed at advancing the continent’s socio-economic development, campaigners said on Monday.

Roseline Kihumba, acting head of Network Development and Coordination at the global charity HelpAge International, said that African governments should prioritize affirmative action as a means to promote the involvement of older people in the sustainability agenda.

“The implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa’s Agenda 2063 must meet the needs and rights of older persons,” Kihumba said in a statement issued in Nairobi. She said that realignment of policy and legal frameworks is required to promote the welfare of Africa’s aging population that has borne the brunt of poverty, exclusion, neglect and limited access to basic services like health.The plight of older persons is expected to dominate panel discussions at the Sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development slated for this week in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Delegates including policymakers and grassroots campaigners will review progress African countries have made in the implementation of treaties aimed at advancing the social and economic rights of older persons. Kihumba said that Africa’s senior citizens, estimated at 6.3 percent of the continent’s population, continue to receive minimal attention during the formulation of national development programs. “This has left majority of older persons living in abject poverty, experience unabated abuse, violence and barriers in accessing services due to ageism and discrimination at family, community and societal levels,” said Kihumba.

African leaders in 2016 adopted a continental charter on the rights of older persons whose ratification is expected to end abuse and discrimination against this demographic. Kihumba said the African Union Charter on the rights of older persons if implemented in full, will revitalize policy, legal, funding and infrastructural tools required to improve the well-being of senior citizens.

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