Study highlights chronic poverty of Ethiopia's urban old
05 October 2010
HelpAge International 2010 A new report launched in Addis Ababa reveals how older Ethiopian city-dwellers are facing severe food shortages and poverty.
The study was carried out by HelpAge International and five local partner organisations and coordinated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). It gives a clearer picture of how older people in Addis Ababa are affected by increasing urbanisation, chronic food insecurity, rising prices and the erosion of traditional family support.
About 145,000 people over 60 live in Addis Ababa, just over 5% of the city's population. Over 1,000 older people were interviewed for the study.
The results make stark reading:
- More than 88% of homeless older people and 66% of those living at home do not have enough to eat.
- 79% of all older people surveyed eat only once or twice a day.
- 79% of homeless older people get water by begging.
- 93% of all older people surveyed have no bath or shower.
- 71% of homeless older people use rivers or drains for washing and 29% do not wash.
- 78% of all older people surveyed have a chronic health problem.
- One in three older people surveyed do not know about the free government health service for poor people.
Battling to survive
Tewabech, 70, migrated to Addis Ababa many years ago. She has only one surviving daughter who abandoned her three children aged between eight and 13 years for her mother to care for.
Tewabech used to brew and sell Tella (a traditional Ethiopian drink) for a living, but the income she makes is not sufficient to take care of four people.
She says: "I am getting weaker but I continue battling to survive as best as I can for as long as my strength allows me to."
She pays two Birr (US$ 0.25) rent per month for her dilapidated house with a leaky roof so low that she cannot stand up straight.
She also pays some of her neighbours to fetch water for her from the nearby well. She pays them 10 cents (US$ 0.007) per bucket.
Food and income security must be improved
Tewabech's life has improved since Agar Ethiopia - one of the local NGOs that participated in the study - stepped in.
"Over the past six months, they have brought food to my home and I have received rations including oil, spaghetti, lentils, coffee, wheat and sugar. I get a contribution of 50 Birr (US$ 3.67) per month, and they also renovated my house. Life is so much better."
The report makes recommendations for improving older people's food and income security, access to healthcare and living environment. It calls for older women to be given special emphasis.
The study was carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Addis Ababa Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs. It is a joint publication of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), IOM and HelpAge International
Download the sudy here:
The vulnerability and living conditions of older people in Addis Ababa (1.9 mb)