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24 counties yet to establish institutions to protect old citizens

Twenty-four county governments are yet to establish institutions to assist in reducing high rate of abuse of elderly people. Over and above being abused, the older people are also excluded in development activities and other communal activities.

Absence of the institutions, the government observes, has contributed to poor handling of the elderly persons’ needs, concerns and aspirations, leading to high rate of poverty and underdevelopment. Principal Secretary Ministry of Labour Social Security and Services Ali Noor Ismail confirmed that a baseline survey carried out in the 2014/15 financial year revealed that out of the 47 counties, only 23 devolved governments have institutions to take care of older groups.

“Kenya has a national policy on older persons which was adopted in 2009. A plan of action has also been developed to guide its implementation. In addition, the ministry has developed guidelines to regulate establishment of older person’s institutions,” said Mr Ismail.

In his speech during celebrations to mark the United Nations Day for Older Persons in Machakos County, he emphasised that to ensure the older people are well handled in all parts of the country, government will ensure that institutions are legally set up and managed as per the laid down regulations.

Kenya has marked the International Day for the Older Persons for the last 12 years. This year’s theme was “Sustainability and age inclusiveness in the urban environment”.

Ismail observed that abuse of elderly people has been on the rise due to social economic changes. “For example, elder people are subjected to discrimination, denied food in addition to being fed to inadequate diet, sexually abused, lack of clothing, lack of medical care and insurance, abandonment, isolation, and loneliness,” he stated.

The PS added elder abuse is most rampant in Kilifi, Kwale, Nyamira, Kisii and Kirinyaga counties. Worse, Ismail stated, is that many cases go unreported.

To address the plight of older people, the Government launched the first phase of Older persons Cash Transfer (OPCT) programme in 2006 as a pilot project covering only 300 beneficiaries in Thika, Nyando and Busia districts who were paid a monthly stipend of Sh1000 each. Currently, the programme coverage has been expanded both in terms of households and annual budgetary allocation. In 2015/16 financial year national government will spend Ksh 7.4 billion to pay a stipend of Ksh2,000 each to 325,453 elder people across the country.

The 2015 International Day of Older Person’s celebration seeks to demonstrate that an age inclusive agenda is crucial for sustainable urban environments to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity for all.

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