Social transfers for older people critical to MDGs


HelpAge International is calling on governments to invest in "social transfer schemes" - which provide guaranteed minimum levels of income - as a way of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Next week, world leaders meet at a UN Summit in New York to assess progress made on the MDGs.

A family in Bolivia A pension for an older person benefits the whole family Tom Weller/HelpAge International

In a new paper, HelpAge highlights evidence from low and middle-income countries that shows social transfers significantly reduce poverty, enhance economic growth and reduce inequality.

And in an open letter today to the UK`s Secretary of State for International Development, HelpAge's Head of Policy, Astrid Walker Bourne, said: "There is significant evidence that cash transfers not only accelerate progress to achieve the MDGs but that they ensure value for money and reach the most chronically poor people such as older women.

"Older women play a key role in reducing the poverty and hunger of their families and households in which they live. When older women receive a pension, they often spend this on food, reducing hunger and improving nutrition."

HelpAge's paper, Social Transfers: a critical strategy to meet the MDGs, calls for explicit recognition by the UN Summit, of the role of social transfers, and in particular non-contributory pensions, to accelerate progress to achieve the MDGs.

The eight MDGs - which include halving extreme poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality and halting the spread of HIV and AIDS - were agreed by world leaders in 2000 and have a target date of 2015.

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