Strengthening the network in the heart of rapid ageing
Last week HelpAge network members from Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Korea met in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The purpose of the meeting was to start an exciting, new EU-funded project focused on strengthening the network on ageing in the region.
Over the next four years as part of the project, the HelpAge network in Southeast Asia will build its capacities to ensure that the voices of its growing older population are included in policy processes.
The heart of rapid ageing
Asia is the heart of global rapid population ageing; nowhere on earth are populations ageing as fast. In Vietnam for example, over 60s currently account for 9% of the total population. By 2050, the number will have increased to more to 30%. This demographic transition is completely unprecedented in the history of mankind.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has already acknowledged this challenge by including older people as a particular target group in the Strategic Framework on Social Welfare and Development (2011-2015), along with children and people living with disabilities.
The role of the network
The HelpAge network in Southeast Asia will ensure that governments in the ASEAN countries and the ASEAN secretariat hear the voices of the older people in the region as they implement the strategy.
The network members all have strong ties with their local communities via older people's associations, which work with and for older people to improve their lives. The network can, as a result, provide a very useful link between the countries' older people and its politicians to improve the dialogue on how to best address the challenges faced by older people. This will benefit both the older people of today and tomorrow. The project aims to improve the dialogue between older people and their governments, with the network playing the crucial convening role.
The regional network will also ensure that the Southeast Asian public are informed about population ageing and what challenges it brings. The network will improve its ability to work with the media and ensure that older people's voices are picked up, as well as organising campaigns and advocacy activities with older people. Finally the project will bring to life a new online platform with information on population ageing in the region.
Learning and sharing
The experiences from the Southeast Asia project will generate very valuable information, which will be used in other regions to strengthen the work of the HelpAge network to make tangible social changes for older people around the world.