Yesterday evening, Age International launched its flagship publication Facing the Facts: the truth about ageing and development at the House of Lords. It contains a series of articles by thought-leaders, academics and development experts, including Mary Robinson, Dr Margaret Chan and Sir Brendan Gormley.
The main aim of the publication is to highlight that older people exist in developing countries, they can be both valuable and vulnerable and – in order for international development to move forward – ageing must be taken into account in government and NGO policies and programmes.
Meet Haji. He is 70 years old and lives in Tanzania. He is married with eight children but they don’t live close by, so he and his wife have to look after themselves. Haji farms his own small plot of land, but is losing his sight due to cataracts. Retirement is not an option because Haji doesn’t have a pension or savings.
Haji’s situation is typical for many older people living in developing countries. He has lived a full and active life; been economically independent and yet is very vulnerable to the challenges later life can bring. For Haji and many others, being older is not a time of respite or relaxation, but a time of hardship, isolation and poverty.
Haji’s life represents just some of the realities Age International is calling attention to in its new publication Facing the facts: the truth about ageing and development. A series of articles written by high-profile thought leaders, academics and researchers, ‘Facing the facts’ aims to raise awareness of the importance of ageing and older people for development.
AN AGEING SOCIETY
The need for this discussion could not be greater. In just a few short decades, more than 20 per cent of the world’s population will be over the age of 60, and 80 per cent of these over-60s will live in developing countries. Yet decision makers in government and development agencies continue to turn a blind eye to these facts.
In a recent debate in the House of Commons, MPs spent almost three hours talking about how to improve the lives of people in developing countries. Not once were older people mentioned. Not once were the needs and rights of the many people in later life like Haji recognised.
To find out more about how governments and NGOs could help people like Haji, please read the report.