Facing the Facts

HajiYesterday 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.

Continue reading “Facing the Facts”

Why does it take so long for aid to get through to the Philippines? And why is aid different for older people?

This blog was contributed by Dianne Jeffrey, Chairman of Age UK and member of the Age International Board

As well as being the Chair of Age UK, I am also on the Board of its subsidiary charity, Age International. I believe passionately that people in later life all over the world deserve our support. That is why I am proud that Age International is helping older people in more than 40 developing countries around the world, including the Philippines after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan.

When disasters strike, people ask me three main questions:

 1.Will aid be delivered?

Yes it will. I have had the privilege of seeing our work in action. We work through local partners who know the situation on the ground better than anyone else. We have strict monitoring and evaluation procedures in place, so we know money will be used correctly. In the Philippines, we are working through our

Help Age International beneficiary Francesca Genemilo , 78, at a HAI food distribution camp. She has diabetes but no access to medicine , her husband who is also ill is taking shelter at the local clinic even though it has no staff."Because he is old the medical services think it is not an emergency"
Help Age International beneficiary Francesca Genemilo , 78, at a HAI food distribution camp. She has diabetes but no access to medicine , her husband who is also ill is taking shelter at the local clinic even though it has no staff.”Because he is old the medical services think it is not an emergency”

long-term partners, HelpAge and the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE) with whom we have worked for 30 and 26 years respectively.

2.Why does it take so long to deliver aid?

Vast swathes of the country have been destroyed; aid workers and government officials themselves affected; electricity pylons knocked down; ports destroyed; airports closed; runways and roads covered in debris. This is not an easy environment in which to be operating. Anacleta, 77, told us “I’ve experienced many typhoons in my life, but this is the worst one ever.” Continue reading “Why does it take so long for aid to get through to the Philippines? And why is aid different for older people?”

Older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) is one of the strongest storms to ever hit land.   Thousands of people have been killed; hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed; millions are at risk.  We estimate that approximately 1.3 million older people have been affected by the typhoon.

The typhoon crashed into the Philippines in the early hours of 8 November.  Pitch black, it was difficult enough to flee in darkness, let alone when contending with crashing waves and gushing winds.   Imagine if on top of that, you are a frail, older person.  How do you escape?   And then when you are in a place of safety, how do you get aid that suits your needs?

Older people are particularly at risk

Older women and men are particularly at risk in emergencies.  They are the ones least able to flee quickly; and the ones most likely to need support.  They often cannot run; they cannot carry possessions – such as blankets and clothes to keep themselves warm and dry.  They cannot queue for long periods for aid.COSE9  They cannot rebuild their homes alone.  They are often excluded from cash-for-work programmes, in the erroneous belief that they are no longer working.  For many agencies, older people remain invisible.

Not for us.  We seek out older people.  We ask them what they need.   And then we deliver ‘age-friendly’ emergency relief.  That sounds like jargon, but it’s really quite simple. Continue reading “Older people affected by Typhoon Haiyan”

Why we need a convention on the rights of older people

This blog was contributed by Chris Roles, Director of Age International.

The world is undergoing a demographic revolution. We are currently witnessing the dividends of improving health care and living standards in fast rising longevity across the globe.

Chris Roles, Director of Age International
Chris Roles, Director of Age International

The number of older people over 60 years old is expected to increase from about 600 million in 2000 to 2 billion by 2050. This change will be most dramatic in developing world countries where the number of older people is expected to triple during the next 40 years.

But as often happens with demographic change, social attitudes and legal protection lag behind, with policy makers scrambling to keep up with the transforming landscape. Continue reading “Why we need a convention on the rights of older people”

Can I afford to buy fairtrade produce?

These are tough times for all of us trying to balance our budgets. We all have to find ways of cutting corners so we can continue to feed our families. For some of us that means buying less food, for others that means buying cheaper food. But what is the real price of cheap food?

300px_african_farmersNo one over the past few weeks can fail to have realised that cheaper food sometimes means questionable quality and provenance. It appears clear that profit has been put before people (and animals):

  • The public wants cheaper produce;
  • The supermarkets want to attract customers by keeping prices lower;
  • The supermarkets therefore pay lower prices to their suppliers;
  • And right at the end of the chain, the farmer suffers.

Nowhere is this more evident in developing countries which either cannot afford to pay its farmers subsidies, or choose not to do so.

These are tough times for us; but even tougher times for millions of farmers and workers in developing countries – many of whom are older people. Despite producing approximately 70 per cent of the world’s food, over half of the world’s hungry people are smallholder farmers themselves, who struggle to earn a decent living from their crops. Unfair trade means they still only receive a tiny proportion of the price we pay for food.

Continue reading “Can I afford to buy fairtrade produce?”

Celebrating the achievements of older people

1 October is the International Day of Older Persons.  Age International sees this as a time to celebrate the achievements of older people and a time to celebrate increased life expectancy around the world.


In Vietnam, Van Quang and Vu Thi celebrate a long and happy marriage

Population ageing is one of the most significant trends of the 21st century. With 1 in 9 persons in the world aged 60 years or over, projected to increase to 1 in 5 by 2050, population ageing is a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored.

It has important and far-reaching implications for all aspects of society.

Population ageing is happening in all regions and countries at various levels of development. It is progressing fastest in developing countries, including those that have a large population of young people. Of the current 15 countries with more than 10 million older persons, seven of these are developing countries.

Ageing is a triumph of development and increasing longevity is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. People live longer because of improved nutrition, sanitation, medical advances, health care, education and economic well-being. Continue reading “Celebrating the achievements of older people”