Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Alleviating Poverty and Unemployment: Can African Senior Citizens Make Contributions?

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Alleviating Poverty and Unemployment: Can African Senior Citizens Make Contributions?

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper is based on a research survey study conducted in South Africa that investigated the contribution senior citizens can make in the alleviation of poverty and unemployment in Africa. In several societies senior citizens are branded as people who have exhausted their economic and social worth of wealth of expertise, knowledge and skills and for that matter see them as having no substantial role to play and make further contributions towards the social and economic development of societies. Families consider them as burden that requires attention and unflinching services from younger members of society. Senior citizens are associated with illnesses, home care, demanding attention from care givers and behave like they have never lived fulfilling lives. This research survey randomly selected 3600 senior citizens from the nine provinces of South Africa. Questionnaire was administered and interview conducted to be able to collect valid data to answer the research question. The long term goal of this study is to provide guidance for more creative policies, including strategies to alleviate poverty and unemployment through the creative employment of senior citizens skills and expertise. The conclusion that could be drawn was that senior citizens can make further contribute towards the alleviation of poverty and unemployment in Africa.

Introduction

The majority of Africans families consider senior citizens as burden that requires attention and unflinching services from younger members of society. Senior citizens are associated with illnesses, home care and demanding attention from care givers. Many families would rather want to see them sent to Old Age Home. What have been forgotten is the fact that majority of senior citizens have themselves been professionals of some sort and have contributed towards the social and economic development during their time of service.

After in-depth literature survey, 3600 senior citizens from the nine provinces of South Africa were randomly selected for the administration of questionnaire and the conduct of interview for primary data (400 from each of the nine provinces) to augment the data gathered from the literature. The main objective of the study was to identify the goodness in senior citizens towards poverty alleviation and elimination of unemployment and make such information substantive to governments, organisations and individuals so that the huge potential of senior citizens expertise in knowledge, experiences and skills could still be utilised.

Statement of the Problem

Can senior citizens make further contribution towards the alleviation of poverty and unemployment in Africa?

Relevant Literature Survey and Analysis

Several literature about senior citizens consulted concentrated on the negative aspects of old age - abuse, neglect and ill-treatment by their children and the state representatives (Ministerial Commission, Republic of South Africa: 2001). Reports from committees from the nine provinces revealed abysmal neglect, abuse and ill-treatment of Older Persons (ibid. 2001:1-14). The situation in South Africa is not different from other African countries and the rest of the world where the majority of senior citizens reside in the rural areas.

The United Nations General Assembly, in December 1991, adopted the United Nations' Principles for Older Persons and proclaimed the Principles for Older Persons in 1999 (UN Principles for Older Persons: 1999). Since the inception of these principles, governments all over the world have been encouraged to incorporate the five principles in the document, namely: independence, participation, care, self-fulfilment and dignity - into national programmes to be able to accord senior citizens the respect and dignity they deserve from society. The following details were provided in the documents. As regards independence, the UN Principles for Older Persons stipulates that older persons should:

* Have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community self-help. …

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