The root cause for the exclusion of older persons from participation in developmental activities in the society- African perspective

  • Annet Nankwanga
  • Julie Phillips


This paper review the literature regarding the barriers to participation of older persons in the African society. Studies have shown that older persons are vulnerable and thus do not participate in most development programmes in society to improve their livelihoods. Research has further shown that there are factors that could be hindering their participation in society. This paper attempts to highlight some of the barriers that hinder participation of older persons in the African communities. The authors conclude that the barriers to effective participation of older persons in society include the state of older people's personal health, poverty and the negative and limiting community attitudes, laws and practices. Pensions, social grants and allowances are among the means through which the elderly cope. However not all older persons have access to pensions as the majority did not work in government. Furthermore, most countries in Africa except for a few such as Mauritius, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho have not considered giving their senior citizens social grants to improve on their livelihoods.


Abrahams, D., & Pia, M. (2002). AIDS and Trends in

Food Production in Sub Saharan Africa. Rome: FAO.

Alun, W. (2003). Ageing and Poverty in Africa. Ugandan livelihoods in a time of HIV/AIDS. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Company.

Apt, N. A. (1999). Rapid urbanization and living arrangements of older persons in Africa. Paper presented at the United Nations Technical Meeting on Population Ageing and Living Arrangements of Older Persons: Critical Issues and Policy Responses,New York, 8-10 February 2000.

Apt, N. A., & M. Greico (1994). Urbanization, caring for the elderly and the changing African family: the challenge to social welfare and social policy. International Social Security Review.

Geneva, pp. 111-122.

Bird, K. & Shinyekwa, I. (2005). Even the 'Rich' are Vulnerable: Multiple Shocks and Downward Mobility in Rural Uganda. Development Policy Review, 23(1): 55-85.

Bond, J. (1990). Living arrangements of elderly people, in Bond, J., & Coleman, P. (eds). Ageing in Society: An Introduction to Social Gerontology, London: Sage Publications.

Clausen, F., Sandberg, E., Ingstad, B. & Hjortdahl (2000).

Morbidity and Health care utilization among elderly people in Mmankgodi village, Botswana. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 54: 58-63. doi:10.1136/jech.54.1.58.

Coe, R. D. (1985). Nonparticipation in the SSI program by the eligible elderly. Southern Economic

Journal, 51(3):891-897.

Deeg, D.J.H., & Bath, P.A. (2003). Self-Rated Health, Gender, and Mortality in Older Persons: Introduction to a Special Section, Gerontologist 43 (3) 69-371. t/full/43/3/369.

Duran, H., & Fundaci6n, B. B. (2002). Ageing and Life Course: Older people - a new power for development, accessed on 9th January 2008 at

Diane, F. G., & Aldwin, C. M. (2003). Health, illness, and optimal ageing: Biological and psychosocial perspectives. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, accessed on 12th December 2008 at Booksources Diseases

Control Priorities Project (2007). Non- communicable Diseases on the Rice in East, Central and Southern Africa. February 2007. Accessed on 20th May 2007 at .

Develeux, S., Lwanga-Ntale, C. & Sabates-Wheeler, R. (2002). Social Protection in Uganda. Study to inform the development of a framework for Social Protection in the context of the Poverty Eradication Action Plan.

Phase 1 Report: Vulnerability Assessment and Review of Initiatives, October, 2002.

Dixon, G.C. & Rollins, C. W. (2003). Contemporary Issues Facing Ageing Americans: Implications for Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counselling.

Frisk, R. (2000). Roles of the elderly. Accessed on 30th November, 2007 at

G. Zappala (2003). Barriers to participation: Financial, Educational and Technological. A report into the barriers to societal participation among low-income Australians.

Harper, M. S. (1988). Behavioural, social and mental health aspects of home care for older Americans, Home Health Care Services Quarterly, 4 (9) 61-124.

Hanahan, D., & Weinberg, R. A. (2000). The hallmarks of cancer, Cell 100 (1) 57-70, accessed on 12th December 2008 at wiki/

Special:Booksources HelpAge International (2007). Rights and older people, accessed on 11th January 2009 at

HelpAge International (2001). Elder abuse in the healthcare services in Kenya, accessed on 11th January 2009 at researchandpolicy

HelpAge International (2005). Defending Rights of Marginalized Old People in Bolivia, accessed on 13th January 2009 at

Kalasa, B. (2004). Population and ageing in Africa: a policy dilemma? Population and Development Strategies Advisor UNFPA/ Country Support Team, Addis Ababa, Ethopia. S84.REGULAR.04.KALASA.DOC.

Kanyemibwa, E. (2007). Decentralised health services and the right to health of the children in Birere Sub County, Isingiro district, Makerere University: Unpublished M.A. Dissertation.

Kanyamurwa, J. M. (2008a). Gender, Nutrition and Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in Mukono District,Makerere University: Good Governance & Gender Mainstreaming Implementation Committee (GGGMIC), Planning & Development Department (PDD).

Kanyamurwa, J. M. (2008b). Globalization and Women's Health: Evidence from Rural Uganda's Smallholder Coffee and Food Producers' Household Nutrition and Food Security, Stockholm: Department Of Public Health Sciences, Division of Social Medicine.

Krieger, N., Chen, J. T & Ebel, G. (2008). Can We Monitor Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health for Older People? A survey of US Health Departments' Data Collection And Reporting Practices. Journal of Public Health, 112, 481-491.

Krulwich, R. (2006). Does Age Quash Our Spirit of Adventure? All Things Considered, accessed on 12th December 2008 at /stor /story.php?storyId=5652676.

Lloyd-Sherlock, P. (2000). Old Age and Poverty in Developing Countries: New Policy Challenges. World Development, 28(12): 2157-2168.

Lwanga-Ntale, C. (2003). Chronic poverty and Disability in Uganda. Paper presented at International Conference at the University of Manchester on 7-9 April 2003.

Lwanga-Ntale, C. & Kimberley, M. (2003). The face of chronic poverty in Uganda as seen by the poor themselves. Chronic Poverty Research Centre- Uganda and Development Research Training.

MacIntyre, S. (1977). Old age as a social problem, in R. Dingwall et al (eds.) Health Care and Health Knowledge, London: Croom Helm, pp. 46-63.

McGarry, K. (1996). Factors determining participation of the elderly in Supplementary Security Income. The Journal of Human Resources, 31(2): 331-358. Accessed on 25th March 2008 at

Murray, H. (2000). The Human Rights Act - what are the implications for older people? A Paper presentation delivered in London, accessed on 10th January 2009 at HTS.htm.

N'nyapule, R. C. M. (2003). Poverty and Older Persons, Paper Presented at a Workshop on Policy Perspectives on the Vulnerable, Court Yard Hotel, Dar Es Salaam, 21 October, accessed on 13th January 2009 at older_person.doc.

Najjumba-Mulindwa, I. (2004). Chronic poverty among the elderly in Uganda: Perceptions, experiences and policy issues. Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics Makerere University. Accessed on 25th April 2007 at rs/Mulwinda.pdf .

Paola, S. T. (2003). Physiological Basis of Ageing and Geriatrics, Informal Health Care, accessed on 12th December 2008 at http://www.en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Special:Booksources/0849309484

Silva-Smith, A. L., Theune, W. T. & Spaid, P.E. (2007).

Primary support persons for individuals who are visually impaired: Who are they and the support they provide. Rehabilitation Research and Development center (151R), Atlanta VA Medical Center. Journal of Visual Impairments & Blindness, 113-118.

Sissel, E. (2003). Gender, HIV/AIDS and Food Security, ECOSOC Ministerial Roundtable on Gender and Rural Development, New York: UNIFEM.

Strawbridge, W. J.,Wallhagen, M. I., & Cohen, R. D. (2002). Successful ageing and well-being: self-rated compared with Rowe and Kahn, Gerontologist 42 (6) 727-accessed on 12th December 2008 at h t t p : / / w w w . e n . w i k i p e d i a . o r g / w i k i /Special:Booksources/12451153.

Taylor, A. (2006). Special report on older people's poverty, accessed on 13th January 2009 at


United Nations (1979). The ageing in slums and squatter

settlements. New York.

Velkoff, V.A. & Kowal, P.R. (2007). Population Aging in Sub-Saharan Africa: Demographic Dimensions 2006.

U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports.

U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Warlick, J. L. (1982). Participation of the aged in SSI program. The Journal of Human Resources, 17(2):236-260.

Williams, G. S. (1999). The Food Situation and HIV/AIDS

in Sub Saharan Africa. Rome: FAO.

World Health Organization (1996). Brasilia declaration on healthy ageing, accessed on 9th January

at /html

World Health Organization (2002). Active Aging Policy Framework, accessed on 8 February 2009 at

World Bank (1993). World Development Report.

Investing in Health. NewYork: Oxford University Press.