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A genuine Kenyan experience

07 Feb 2012

Our campaign will raise awareness of older people in Kenya and their need for better social protection and benefitsKaribuni Sana readers and greetings from Kenya!

I am currently seconded from Age UK to the HelpAge International regional office in Kenya, completing a three month placement based in Nairobi. 

This placement is all about supporting the regional office to develop marketing and communications support and activities for local partners HelpAge Kenya, HelpAge's office in Uganda as well as a range of HelpAge International affiliates.

With approximately four weeks under my belt and around eight weeks remaining to develop and implement a package of support, this placement is proving an interesting and challenging opportunity. Needs are varied; communications support is in great demand and as with everywhere else, resources are stretched to capacity!

Whilst here, I'll be hoping to share some of my experiences with you via this blog. It will hopefully make for some entertaining reading but also be informative and thought provoking. I hope to highlight the similarities and differences between the perceived challenges faced by older people in the UK and Kenya. I will also look how developing appropriate communications can make a difference.

In the forthcoming year, HelpAge International will be focusing their work around four thematic areas. One of which is social protection

Social protection... making a change

Older people today are some of the world's poorest, most invisible, and most marginalised.

The most recent Kenyan national population census indicated that there are about 1.8 million people aged over 60 across Kenya, the majority of whom are poor, living in squalid conditions and unable to support themselves. Social protection is recognised as a means to enhance the capacity of these vulnerable older people, enabling them to better manage the economic and social risks they face such as exclusion, sickness, malnutrition and disability.  

One such element of social protection is the Older Persons Cash Transfer scheme (OPCT) which has been running since 2006. It was originally piloted across 72 districts and aimed to support older people living in extremely poor conditions. Over the past five years, the scheme has continued to grow and demonstrate a positive impact on the lives of those older people participating in the scheme.

The difference a day makes

In June 2011, Parliament passed a motion stating that any person over the age of 60 who does not receive an existing pension or benefits from the state or other organisations would be in line to receive the "social pension" of Ksh2,000 per month (approximately US$24)

Although this was an exciting and critical development in the progression of social protection as a means of addressing older people's needs, there is still a great deal of work to do. 

I am really excited to be here at this critical time and work with the social protection team in preparing a campaign geared towards informing and educating relevant parties. 

Our aim is to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, increase the profile of this scheme locally, galvanise not just older people but the local communities into action and draw attention to the ongoing plight of vulnerable older people whilst empowering them to access this support.

Read more about HelpAge's work on social protection for older people.

Your comments

Emma Spragg

A really worthwhile initiative to be involved in. Hope it's going well Hazel, would love to hear more.

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Author profile

Hazel Austin
Country: U.K

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.