Spotlight on governments as delegates meet in Harare to discuss inclusion of older people

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Older persons advocate against depression
Older persons advocate against depression

How well governments include issues of ageing in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 will be the spotlight of a side event at the Sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development as delegates descend in Zimbabwe Monday.

Africa remains a continent with the highest increase of ageing population but also a continent that is least prepared to ensure rights and dignity of older persons is maintained through the modification of legal, policy and programmatic frameworks and services.

Older persons in Africa over the years have been perpetually received less profile in regional and national planning, budgeting and sector specific public policy discourse. As a result, older persons continue to experience poverty, discrimination and violence.

“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 Roseline Kihumba, Acting Head of Network Development and Coordination, HelpAge International

“The SDG and the Agenda 2063 remain key frameworks that provide the greatest opportunity to turn around this history, through its commitment to leave no one behind, use of human rights approach, end inequality and social justice. These commitments demand that the implementation of SDGs and Agenda 2063 must meet the needs and rights of older persons through mainstreaming ageing but also changing legal and policy actions that takes consideration of their aspiration, longevity, capacities and risks exposure.,” said Kihumba
Despite this, minimal evidence of efforts that bring dignity and prosperity among older persons have been reported in the delivery of SDGs and Agenda 2063. While the continent has reported progress of development and adoption of legal, policy and infrastructural frameworks for older persons and their mainstreaming at national, sub-regional and continental levels remains slow.

For instance, the AU Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa adopted in 2016 by Head of States is yet to come in force. Only two countries have ratified out of the 15 ratifications needed. Older persons rights remain invisible in Africa human rights mechanism, parliamentary systems and accountability institutions.

The 6th Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development theme “2020-2030: A Decade to deliver a transformed and prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063”, is a great moment to build consensus on an accelerated commitments needed for the decade of action on age inclusive SDGs and Agenda 2063. This will ensure a prosperous continent where peoples of all ages attain their wellbeing, dignity and quality of life as they contribute their talents and potential to advance the continent.

To achieve SDGs and Agenda 2063 in the next decade, there is need for Governments and stakeholders to invest more in: accelerate ratification, domestication and implementation of the AU Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons; development of core competencies and specialised technical experts needed to serve to propel healthy ageing and productivity throughout the life course; increase financial allocation; improved data management systems that promotes disaggregation of data by age and other aspects that intersect ageing such as gender; establishment of a multi -sectorial coordination mechanism for implementation and reporting at national and regional level; and establishment of partnership and collaboration.
Africa is experiencing the highest increase of the number of older persons population, who are living longer with valuable capacities as well as vulnerabilities particularly older women who further bear more risks due intersectionality between age and other aspects such as gender, disability, poverty etc.
In 2017, Africa had 69 million older persons (7.1% of global population of older persons), projected to reach 226 million in 2050 (about 10.9 % of 60+ globally). A similar effort to modify the existing laws, policies and systems is needed for older persons to live with dignity and free from discrimination and violence.

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