The impact of the global food, fuel and finance crisis

A global food, fuel and finance crisis is resulting in millions of people being driven into poverty and hunger, affecting populations worldwide.


A global food, fuel, and finance crisis is resulting in millions of people being driven into poverty and hunger. For older people in lower and middle-income countries this has resulted in a loss of livelihoods, dignity, and wellbeing.

HelpAge has investigated the impact of this crisis on older populations, through in-depth research across 10 countries. We have assessed how older people’s incomes and their access to food, fuel, healthcare, and other services have been affected.

Things have just gotten worse - Report

Download our report on the impact of the global food, fuel and finance crisis on older people – “Things have just gotten worse” – it highlights older people’s risk of starvation and extreme poverty due to rising global costs.

The report is based on research carried out in Argentina, Colombia, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Malawi, Mozambique, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Yemen.

Download the report

High levels of food poverty

Older people s diets have undergone significant and detrimental changes with food consumption and dietary variety in severe decline.

Older people are spending their days without food. In extreme situations, they go to bed without eating, unless they receive some support from a neighbour.
Study participant, Mozambique.

Older people are skipping meals, consuming less food, and cooking less due to the high cost of fuel, causing their health and nutritional status to decline.

Unable to afford basic needs

Older people are also facing increasing difficulties in meeting their basic needs and some have even resorted to selling their assets or begging on the street to make ends meet.

For me, fuel, food and financial crisis is just one all boiling down to financial needs of older people. The reason why you re hungry is because you don t have enough money to buy food for yourself and for your family.
Study participant, Philippines.

Without adequate social protection, finance or credit options, many older people are depleting their savings to survive the crisis, with no safety net to rely on.

Gender inequalities exacerbated

Older women are experiencing even greater shortages of food and nutrition than older men.

Older women lack opportunities to earn money to support themselves and their families. And past unpaid domestic and caregiving roles, mean many are denied any form of social protection, such as pensions.

Health and wellbeing taking a severe hit

Healthcare expenses increases have ranged from 35 to 70 percent – adding to the financial burden of older people.

Higher fuel and transportation costs also prevent some from visiting hospitals and clinics for medical treatment.

Medicine prices have gone up and it is affecting our health as older people. Sometimes we get a dosage that is not enough because the money is not enough. Medicine is scarce and expensive in a way that we cannot afford to buy, and we think we are going to die. We get sick and we no longer go to the hospital due to high transportation costs and now we cannot even afford to just buy at the pharmacy; the only thing left is for us to die. -Study participant, Malawi.

The provision of home-based care has also decreased in some areas and social isolation is increasing.

Urgent action needed to save older people’s lives

  1. We are urging governments and intergovernmental agencies around the world to act urgently on the following priority actions:
  2. Provide urgent humanitarian support to older people, which includes access to food, energy, healthcare and medicines and other basic needs.
  3. Protect livelihoods and access to labour markets and economic opportunities to ensure income security.
  4. Strengthen social protection systems and extend pension coverage to all older people to help prevent and decrease poverty and vulnerability to livelihood risks.
  5. Strengthen the resilience of older people so that they are better able to deal with shocks and their aftermath, including addressing disaster risk and the effects of climate change.
  6. Ensure the full inclusion of older people within humanitarian response.

HelpAge is responding to the crisis in a two-pronged way.

  • We have re-purposed our ongoing programmes to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to address the immediate needs of older people, especially in the countries that have been worst affected by the crisis.
  • We are continuing evidence-based advocacy for social protection, calling for an inclusive system that aims to provide guaranteed access to income for all individuals, regardless of their occupation, gender, ethnicity, social status, and residence.