Acting Cabinet Secretary for Labour, Social Security and Services Ambassador Raychelle Omamo says mistreatment and disrespect towards elders within families and society has been on the rise. Ms Omamo noted that the elderly are subjected to a lot of suffering including sexual abuse, being denied food and inadequate diet.
“The old are also denied clothing, not accorded medical care and insurance, they suffer abandonment and isolation, and loneliness, amongst other ills,” said Ms Omamo.
She made the remarks at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) during commemoration of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Kenya. She observed that World Health Organization (WTO) data suggests that 4 to 6 per cent of elderly persons suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported.
In Kenya, she said, cases of elder abuse to the old have been reported in Kilifi, Kwale, Kisii, Nyamira, Tana River, Kirinyaga and many other counties. “Heart-breaking stories are reported in the local media where older persons have been targeted and killed on baseless accusations of practicing witchcraft and being grey haired. Many more of these cases go unreported and hidden from authorities,” she added.
The population of older persons globally has been increasing rapidly. According to the 2009 National Population and Housing Census, the population of older persons stood at 1.9 million and was projected to reach three million in 2030. The Cabinet Secretary stated that the old are guaranteed protection under the Constitution so they can participate in development activities, personal development, dignity, and respect. Together with the family, the State is also obligated to provide care and reasonable assistance to older persons.
She assured that Government has progressively put in place measures to ensure that older persons enjoy their rights and are free from abuse and live in dignity. “We have been able to enact the National Policy on Older Persons and Ageing. The policy provides a comprehensive framework for guiding issues of older persons and ageing in development processes, and also to inform other sectoral policies. A draft National Plan of Action for implementation of the Policy has been prepared by the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services,” Omamo confirmed.
Other measures include developing guidelines to regulate establishment of older persons’ institutions and the ministry has also developed a draft Older Person Bill as a framework to addressing elder abuse. Government in 2009, she said, established the Cash Transfer Programme to Older Persons targeting vulnerable older persons aged 65 years and above at the household level.
The programme enables the vulnerable section of the population to meet basic human needs. Currently, the Cash Transfer Programme to Older Persons is providing Ksh2,000 monthly to identified households in all the 47 counties. During the 2015/2016 financial year, Government has allocated Ksh7.4 billion for Older Persons, compared to Sh5.9 billion allocated to the programme in 2014/2015 fiscal year.
The minister said in order for Government to be able to develop sound policy on older people, she will start collecting data needs of key organizations dealing with older persons with a view of identifying existing gaps for policy and programme action.