HelpAge research lauded for contribution to development


By Ed Knight

Research examining the effects of limited access to public transport on older people's health and livelihoods in Tanzania was named one of the most impressive examples of UK research contributing to development.

The study, which includes research carried out by HelpAge International, Durham University, the Good Samaritan Social Services Trust and Policy Research for Development (REPOA), was chosen out of 6,975 case studies submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014 - the system used to assess the research quality of all UK universities.

The UK Collaborative on Development Sciences, a group of 14 government departments and research funders working in international development, selected the study as one of their favourite impact stories.

"In a uniquely organised approach, older men and women were involved as co-researchers shaping the design of the research tools and the collection of data, they've not just been passive respondents," said Amleset Tewodros, HelpAge International's Tanzania Country Director and co-author of a paper cited in the case study.

Deyu rides on the back of a bike in Sukumaland, Tanzania

Deyu rides on the back of a bike in Sukumaland, Tanzania (c) Jeff Williams/HelpAge International

The Department for International Development’s African Community Access Programme consulted the research while creating a Transport Services Training Manual used in regional workshops across Sub-Saharan Africa with transport policy makers and practitioners.She said the research helped policy makers to recognise the transport and mobility challenges experienced by people with low mobility and physical inability, including older people.

For the study Transport and Mobility in Africa, HelpAge Tanzania, Durham University researchers and local co-researchers explored the adverse effects on older people’s health and livelihoods brought about by limited access to transport. They concluded that economic circumstances in households and communities were negatively affected and the workload of resident grandchildren in their care increased.

According to Tewodros, the findings of the research have made a significant contribution to improving accessibility of rural transport, including for people with limited mobility such as older people, children and women.

Other impact stories in the top 20 covered topics such as climate change, air pollution, clean water and the fight against bird flu.

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