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
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. 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.