Photo: Antonio Olmos/HelpAge International Peruvian President Alan Garcia has officially announced the launch of a monthly non-contributory pension for older people over 75 living in extreme poverty.
Help for the abandoned and forgotten
"We will support seniors over 75 years with no pension and those who live in extreme poverty with a monthly transfer to help their everyday lives," President Garcia stated in his address to the Nation on Independence Day.
He acknowledged that these pensions will "raise the morale of the country and enable older people who are abandoned and forgotten to have greater economic independence."
Giovanna Abad, Director of HelpAge's Programme in Peru, said:
"Our organisation and partners have played an important role in achieving this development. We now have the challenge of how to implement a pension scheme. The project will be a joint responsibility under the direction of the government development programme CRECER (Grow)."
Poor, older people without pensions forced to work
In Peru, 42% of people over the age of 75 are poor, with more women that men. In rural areas this figure rises to 65% (National Household Survey 2007).
Only 7.8% of poor older people over the age of 60 receive any kind of pension, which explains why more than a quarter of people over the age of 60 continue to work.
Most of those still working are in the informal sector where they have no access to social security.
"A great day for older people in Peru"
"We also need to recognise the tremendous work done by Peru's National Association of older People, Red-ANAMPER," Giovanna added.
"HelpAge and its network of partners in Peru has been working with Red-ANAMPER for many years, building its capacity to represent the demands and needs of older people.
"This political lobbying has been crucial and has led to this important announcement by the President of the Republic today."
James Blackburn, HelpAge's Regional Representative for Latin America, continued: "This is a great day for poor, older people in Peru. Older people and generations to come will have access to at least some form of pension. They will be able to retain their economic independence, contribute to their families and, most of all, lead a dignified old age."
Struggling to make ends meet
Genaro is 76 years old and sells jelly cups at a local market in Lima, Peru.
"I worked for a construction company for 20 years. I had to stop when I had an accident that badly damaged my right leg and I couldn't do the lifting or digging anymore.
"For the last 10 years, my wife and I have been surviving any way we can. I get up at 5am to start preparing jelly cups, which I then sell in the local market for 25 cents each.
"My damaged leg gives me grief as I have to walk around all day, but I try and stay positive and laugh and joke with people because I sell more that way.
"My wife used to make some extra money by mending clothes, but her health is so bad now she can't manage."
Genaro and his wife struggle to make ends meet, pay the bills and find money to pay for her medicines. They are worried the government will take their house away as they are unable to pay the taxes.
"With a pension I would be free from stress and worry"
"If I got the pension I am owed or if the government decided to help us older people by giving us some help the biggest change would be that I would be free from all this stress and worry about money.
"I would continue to sell my jelly but I'd be able to afford the drugs my wife needs to ease her pain and I could start paying off the utility bills."
It is people like Genaro and his wife who could benefit from the small non-contributory pension announced by President Garcia.