Integrated Regional Information Networks via AllAfrica.com
aid organisations on Tuesday welcomed a government decision to double
state pensions, but warned that more had to be done for
pensioners are among the lucky ones, because they have already been
working for a large part of their lives and have money," Bofin told
IRIN. "Our concern is with the elderly in rural areas, who have no
pension and often have not worked. They are extremely poor and have little
support," he added.
plight of the elderly in
went on to observe that the elderly often bore the brunt of the HIV/AIDS
virus in having to care for their orphaned grandchildren, whose parents
had died of the disease.
Alemu is 70 and looks after four orphaned grandchildren. A year ago, the
virus killed her unmarried daughter. She receives no pension. "It is
so hard to survive," she told IRIN. "If it was just me, I could
live on begging and bread, but I have to feed the children."
the last decade, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a devastating but
under-reported impact on older people's lives and on those who depend on
them," Bofin said. He pointed out that food aid was often
"unproductive" because it was given to the elderly in the form
of direct handouts, whereas if cash were handed out instead, it could
serve to stimulate the local economy.
said, for example, that a recipient of cash could buy an ox to help with
farming, as well as exercise choice in the type of food to buy instead of
just getting grain in the hand-outs. "It also has a knock-on effect
for the household, because cash would be part of the income for the
family," he noted.
pension increase - which has been backdated to September - will cost the
government about $6 million. The increase was announced as being designed
to help former government employees meet the rising cost of living.