Preparing for ageing in Southern Africa
I recently attended the tenth Southern African Development Community (SADC) Civil Society Forum conference in Harare, Zimbabwe. Our partner, Zimbabwe Older Persons Organization (ZOPO) also took part, representing older people in Southern Africa.
The forum is made up of a number of NGOs and civil society groups from 15 Southern African member states. The theme was "acting together for accountability, peace and inclusive development".
Recommendations for the SDGs
Civil society movements and NGOs presented their recommendations, some of which were included in the civil society communiqué which was then presented to SADC Heads of State.
From HelpAge, Necodimus Chipfupa, Southern Africa Regional Director and Janet Duffield, Head of Programmes for Southern Africa presented our recommendations for the Sustainable Development Goals, which included:
- Equality of social protection and decent work for all ages.
- Healthcare that maximises healthy life expectancy at all stages of life – a key demand when 75% of the global burden of chronic and non-communicable diseases affects people over 60.
- Gender goals focusing on protecting and promoting women's rights at all ages.
- Improved data collection and reporting to ensure data includes people of all ages.
We called on SADC civil society and governments to get behind the key policies needed to prepare for the challenges of an ageing region by focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN convention on the rights of older people, the Africa Union common position on older people's rights and our Age Demands Action campaign.
Commitments on ageing
I also took part in discussions hosted by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), looking at how civil society organisations are using new media for development initiatives. The consensus was that many people are marginalised from mainstream media and there is a need for more civil society groups to look at how we use new media to network, share information and contribute to development work.
There was a call for SADC to review its Protocol on Culture, Information and Sport to include the the right to seek access and receive information from public bodies and private bodies performing a public function.
All in all, the Southern Africa Civil Society Forum came up with 13 declarations that they presented to the SADC member states. The following two related to ageing:
- To commit to structured, transparent, mutually accountable and respectful spaces for engagement between civil society and governments, in particular regarding the informal economy. As most countries in Southern Africa do not have social pensions, older people form a large percentage of those working in the informal economy.
- To develop, adopt and disseminate a SADC Protocol on the Elderly by 2016, in negotiation with civil society.
These declarations are an indication of the role HelpAge will continue to play in the Southern African region in collaboration with our country network of older people's organisations and other key stakeholders including NGOs, national governments, academia and think tanks.
Read more about our work in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and our network of partners across the Southern African region.