HelpAge has been working in Myanmar since 2003. Our aim is to support older people to play an active role in their communities and be part of the development process across the country.
The majority of HelpAge’s work is carried out through Older People’s Self-Help Groups (OPSHGs) and Village Development Committees (VDCs). These self-governing groups are set up to reduce poverty in rural areas and there are currently 128 groups across Ayeyarwaddy Region, Sagaing Region, Mandalay Region and Yangon Region.
Older people work together to help themselves and other vulnerable people in marginalised groups enjoy a better quality of life. From awarding scholarships to those caring for grandchildren to generating income through shared farming equipment, the groups have benefited 11,000 family members.
Life story: Daw San, 61
(c) Joanne Hill/HelpAge International Daw San, 61, is the main carer for her five-year-old granddaughter as her own daughter is often ill and can’t work. In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, she was forced to take a loan from local moneylenders to support her family, which made her anxious as she struggled to pay the high-interest.
But since San has joined her local Older People’s Self-Help Group and received a low-interest loan, she has been able to pay back her debts and buy new seedlings and fertiliser to expand her market garden, where she now grows banana, lime, guava and coconuts.
And despite San’s own burdens, she’s also giving back to her community as a volunteer carer. She offers home help to her 73-year-old neighbour.
She said: “My friend, Daw Tin can’t see very well. She had an operation on one eye at the hospital. Her husband is also bedridden because he had a stroke. I have learnt how to give massages and teach about personal hygiene. It’s my hobby to take care of people.”
HelpAge has trained 128 Older People’s Self-Help Groups across Myanmar, which are enabling thousands of older people like Daw San to support their own family and empower them to contribute to life in their community.
Supporting older people in Myanmar
- Through Older People’s Self-Help Groups and Village Development Committees we helped more than 4,500 of the poorest and most vulnerable households, providing seeds and fertiliser for farming, nets and fishing boats, vaccinations for livestock or loans to set up small businesses.
- More than 1,600 older people have been provided loans and training to set up small businesses, such as flower growing or fruit and vegetable gardens.
- A total of 50 tractors and 26 water pumps are being used by communities to increase livelihood production, as a result of "communal income generation ventures" – business ideas that community members plan together to improve village life.
- We have trained more than 500 older volunteers as home-based carers who are supporting over 700 vulnerable older people.
- Over 6,000 older people received a free health checks and medication from our mobile medical units.
- We provided ophthalmic screening to more than 1,000 older people and distributed glasses and hearing and mobility aids to more than 800 people.
- A total of 1,989 OPSHG and VDC members were trained and supported to produce community-based plans for how to cope when environmental disasters strikes.
- HelpAge and Older People’s Self-Help Groups have been lobbying for older people’s rights. This year the new government has requested HelpAge’s support to conduct a nationwide research survey to determine the current socio-economic situation of older people. The survey will inform the government’s proposal to write a National Action Plan on Ageing.
- To celebrate the UN International Day of Older Persons in 2012 Older People’s Self-Help Groups leaders met with the newly appointed Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement to advocate for social protection for older people, such as pensions and discounted transport.
- We will continue to provide regular health check-ups, medication and training on health and active ageing for older people by increasing the amount of Mobile Medical Units to service even more villages.
- We will also carry out research and advise the government on the need for pensions and policies that takes into account older people’s needs.
- We will continue providing food, security and income for 4,500 of the poorest and most marginalised households through small enterprises, vocational and skills development training, micro-credit schemes and rice banks and fisheries.
See the innovative way HelpAge reached older people after Cyclone Nargis
National YMCA, Network Activities Group, Golden Plain, UNFPA, UNDP, UNOCHA, Action Aid Myanmar, The Leprosy Mission International, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief, Resettlement, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.