Older people unite to demand their right to participate in all aspects of life in Kenya


As the world marks the International Day of Older Persons, medical cover programmes and the rising awareness on their rights of older persons are some of the gains achieved by Kenya’s older persons in the recent years

According to a number of older persons interviewed, the government of Kenya has made significant milestones in introducing and expanding programmes for older persons.

However Mr Kenyatta Maitha, Kenya Country Director, HelpAge International said these gains need to be protected through establishment of policies and legal framework so that future administrations would not backtrack on these benefits.

Through our Age Demand Action which is entering its 10th year today, we bring older people together to take action, engage ministers and call for the fulfilment of older people’s rights. We’ve demanded improvements in healthcare for older people, which lead to new rules that mean we no longer have to queue at health facilities, and we now have a national health insurance scheme,” said Esther Wamera, 80 and a campaigner in Nairobi.

Wamera added that through ADA, older people have been able to take their demands to the United Nations to join the call for a convention on the rights of older people, and have ensured that their call for access to better health care reach the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

Older campaigners in Kenya are united with thousands of others worldwide as part of the HelpAge International Age Demands Action global campaign 10 years after the first one in 2007. For a decade, this has been a platform for older men and women to mobilise around the world to challenge the issues affecting them.

Justin Derbyshire, Chief Executive of HelpAge International, said: “ADA campaigners all over the world are coming together to raise awareness of the damaging effects of ageism and the abuse of older people’s rights. Governments must do more to support older people, through the creation of enabling environments that allow them to participate more fully in society, to the benefit of all.”

On 1 October, campaigners worldwide are pushing for change by directly lobbying decision-makers through meetings with government ministries, holding rallies to raise public awareness and speaking directly to older people to find out about their experiences and needs.

“But older people still face challenges. Those who haven’t been in formal work have had no pension. They have to pay rent, take their grandchildren to school and look after their own adult children who may not be working. The universal pension due to be introduced in 2018 is an important step forward, but there is much more still to be done,” said Mama Rhoda Ngima, 83 and an ADA Spokesperson in Kenya.

Age Demands Action has older people at its heart. For many, this campaign is the only opportunity to meet decision-makers and discuss issues of importance to them and the older people they represent.

HelpAge International is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Age Demands Action by looking back at the achievements of older campaigners since the beginning. Their hard work has helped to:

According to Kenyatta, Kenya’s biggest achievement is that the government has introduced the social protection about five years but the number of the older persons have risen to be the biggest beneficiaries of cash transfer. Currently, about 900, 000 older persons are on one form of cash transfer or the other. “They are more than Orphans, and Vulnerable Children, and people of living with severe disabilities”, he said adding that in fact, the biggest payroll in Kenya today is the vote for the older persons which has now surpassed that of teachers that has for years led in the government budgetary allocations.

Jemma Stovell, Campaigns Manager at HelpAge International said, “It is incredible to see what older people have achieved through their campaigning over the past ten years. National policies have been adopted, pensions increased and thousands of older people have united to demand governments protect their rights. Year on year older men and women prove that their voices must be heard and their rights acknowledged. But the fight to end age discrimination and protect older people’s rights must continue”.