Older Persons’ Bill: Malawi’s Landmark Legislation for Older People


Malawi passed The Older Persons’ Bill, marking a monumental leap forward for the country’s ageing population. 

Addressing key issues 

The Older Persons’ Bill, passed by the National Assembly in Malawi on 5 April 2024, represents a significant advancement for the ageing populace of the country. 

The bill establishes a comprehensive framework for community-based and home-based care, ensuring professional assistance and secure living conditions. 

It also includes provisions for financial aid, granting monthly stipends to older people nationwide. 

Additionally, the formation of a National Steering Committee on Older Persons will oversee the effective implementation and enforcement of the bill, fostering transparency and accountability at every level.  

By enshrining legal protections and support mechanisms, this bill signifies an important step towards inclusive governance and social justice. 


The rising population of older Malawians 

Malawi’s demographic landscape is undergoing a significant shift, with the older population steadily increasing.  

There are approximately one million older people in Malawi, constituting 5.4% of the total population. Since 1987, the number of older people has nearly doubled, highlighting the growing importance of addressing their needs and challenges. 

Unfortunately, old age often brings harsh realities such as poverty and loss of dignity, compounded by various human rights violations, including discrimination, abuse, and neglect. 


Challenges faced by older people 

In Malawian society, older people play vital roles as custodians of wisdom, culture, and caregivers.  

Yet, shifting family structures and socioeconomic challenges have rendered many older people vulnerable to abuse and discrimination. Traditional beliefs, particularly those associating older people with witchcraft, perpetuate violence and harassment against them, exacerbating their plight.  

Disturbingly, there has been a sharp increase in reported attacks and abuses against older people in Malawi, emphasising the urgent need for robust legal safeguards and support systems. 

HelpAge global network partner Malawi Network of Older Persons’ Organisation (MANEPO) has hailed lawmakers for passing the Older Persons’ Bill. 

MANEPO Executive Director Andrew Kavala urged Malawians to unite in protecting, promoting and safeguarding the rights of older persons so that they can live a dignified, secure, active and healthy life.

While the Older Persons’ Bill represents a commendable achievement, eradicating entrenched myths and stereotypes demands concerted efforts across all sectors. Let us march forward, united in our resolve to build a society that cherishes and protects its elderly with dignity and respect.

MANEPO Executive Director Andrew Kavala.