By Robert Tapfumaneyi in Victoria Falls
THERE is need for development programmers to unite and speak with one voice on issues affecting the young and old, and deal with their challenges holistically than separately.
This came out at the ongoing 6th African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) Wednesday in Victoria Falls.
Addressing delegates on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063, Triumph Africa CEO Tendai Emmanuel, said while the gains made on older persons remained invisible, there were considerable efforts at various levels that can be utilised to speed up the integration of older persons in communities.
“Older people do have a voice, it’s just that we are not speaking about it and their voices need to be given spaces when decisions are being implemented and old people need to be part of that,” the Triumph Africa director said.
“I am glad to see that happening in Zimbabwe, but we need more of it and see things the way our youths take a leading role on issues affecting them, this should be the same with old people.
“Let’s not do programmes at one level forgetting that one day the same youths will be old.”
Emmanuel added that Africa remained a continent with the highest increase of ageing populations, but also a continent that is least prepared to ensure rights and dignity of older persons is maintained through the modification of legal, policy and programmatic frameworks and services.
“We are hoping to work with the Zimbabwean government to welcome us as we try to help the old people. So, in that, we are saying to governments across Africa, as the African diaspora, come to invest in Africa. Welcome us back home,” she said.
“And we are coming. We must not claim that we know better because we are from the diaspora. So we want both sides to work together.
“What we need from our government is ‘please do welcome us back, we don’t have political agendas, we want our community, our older people empowered’.
“We want to help finance the work that is being done to the older people and my call to the diaspora is that horizontal philanthropy is great, as Africans, we have always been philanthropists, we have always done it when it was your next-door neighbour who didn’t have sugar, this is our way as Africans.”
Other issues discussed by the participants involved ensuring how older persons prospered as per commitment in SDGs and Agenda 2063 and consolidating key policy actions.