NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
The elderly population in Africa is bearing the
brunt of humanitarian crises triggered by conflicts and climate
change linked disasters, said a study released here on Monday.
According to the
study titled “Older people in displacement: falling through the
cracks of emergency responses,” the unfolding humanitarian
crisis in the greater horn of African region linked to wars and
droughts have taken a heavier toll on senior citizens amid weak
“Older people with
disabilities reported receiving less support from their families
during displacement as resources were scarce and families grew
tired of caring for them,” said the study, which was
commissioned by the HelpAge International, a charity group.
“This loss of power,
dignity and respect can have harmful impact on older people’s
psychological health,” it added.
The study, which
covered Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, sheds light on the
vulnerabilities of older people in the event of calamities
against a backdrop of haphazard or weak responses from
humanitarian actors and the wider society.
It noted that the
suffering of elderly and displaced persons in the regional
hotspots has been exacerbated by a breakdown of traditional
social safety nets, abject poverty, chronic illnesses and
various forms of disabilities.
Prafulla Mishra, the
Africa regional director at the HelpAge, noted that civil
strife, coupled with negative impacts of climate change, have
conspired to aggravate the misery of elderly persons in the
eastern African region.
and the frequent cycle of droughts in east Africa dismantle
communities’ power and support structures, breaking down older
people’s traditional positions of influence and power within
communities,” Mishra said.
“As younger people
migrate to find work in urban areas or pasture further afield,
those left in the villages face further isolation and neglect,”
governments in the region for developing progressive safety nets
tailor-made for the elderly population but urged humanitarian
actors to retool resilience programs earmarked for this
demographic in the light of recurring disasters.
in east Africa, in particular Kenya and Ethiopia, are
increasingly developing social protection policies, universal
pension systems and other safety nets that build the resilience
of older people, humanitarian organizations are not responding
fast enough,” said Mishra.
He noted that
humanitarian disasters linked to climate change will intensify
in the region, and that governments and relief agencies need to
come up with programs that enhance resilience of older people.