Age UK and HelpAge International response to ITV, "Tonight", Thursday 20 October 2011

21 October 2011

Statement on behalf of: Tom Wright, AGE UK CEO and Richard Blewitt, HelpAge International, CEO

"We warmly welcome ITV's decision to prioritise the debate on aid delivery and the worsening famine in East Africa in last night's "Tonight" report with Eddie Izzard.

As a members of the DEC, our two organisations, work hand in hand to fundraise and deliver in response to emergency relief efforts around the world on behalf of vulnerable older people fighting for survival. We support this high profile broadcast opportunity to challenge many of the misconceptions which have clouded appropriate and responsible aid delivery over recent years.

As the documentary clearly showed, aid delivery is a complex, difficult and often multilayered series of long term causes, agencies and interconnected problems. Pulling us all together though is a shared principle that no one should die from famine in 2011. 

This crisis has been caused by a combination of natural and human factors; from successive failed rains and decades of economic marginalisation, to a neglect and under-development of land in many of the poorest regions. Therefore, we believe that East Africa must not be seen as a direct consequence of the past, but rather, we must work together and look ahead to solutions for our changing world.

Economic instability and climate change will make natural disasters more frequent and intense; this demands logical and practical solutions. Agencies, like ours, have a responsibility to the British public's generosity and compassion, to work towards sustainable changes that will help millions living in poverty.

Our work is critical to finding long term solutions, as older people remain one of the most vulnerable, yet still invisible, groups of people in emergencies, often selflessly prioritising children and grandchildren when food is available. Older people need tailored responses, working with our local partners, so they can continue playing a vital role in families and communities.

Therefore, one hundred days after launching an appeal for Ethiopia, we are providing food and cash to over 3,500 older people and their families (approximately 24,500 people) in Borana Zone and Dollo Ado.  We are also repairing wells, improving access to healthcare and exploring the possibility of running family reunification programmes in camps for displaced people".


Notes to Editors

For more information please contact: Rachel Trayner,, 0207 148 7623 (HelpAge International Media).

Age UK is raising money together with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) for the East Africa Crisis. The DEC is a consortium of 14 aid agencies working together.

You can help us too by donating to Age UK's East Africa appeal for vulnerable older Ethiopians and their families affected by the drought.

HelpAge International is a global network of organisations helping older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives -

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