Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Economics and Management Sciences

Urbanization and Aging: The Survival of the Aged in an Urbanizing City, Maseru, Lesotho

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Economics and Management Sciences

Urbanization and Aging: The Survival of the Aged in an Urbanizing City, Maseru, Lesotho

Article excerpt

Abstract

The paper analyzes the elderly survival strategies in an increasingly urbanizing city of Maseru in the period 2009-2012 using the household survey conducted on poor elderly in the three urban communities of Thibella, Sekamaneng and Motimposo. It seeks to understand the impact of rapid urban growth of Maseru on the elderly and the possible range of responses to this change and poverty The analysis shows that the elderly people living in poverty have devised means of survival while a few increasingly depend on social welfare grant provided by the government to cope with poverty. Despite this good effort, more than 50 percent of the population still lives in poverty. The burden of caring for orphans particularly in female elderly headed households exposes them to more poverty. Lifting the elderly group out of poverty will require a continued growth based policy and further expansion of social services. This paper serves as a basis for policy review so that the needs of the elderly are fully addressed. Furthermore, the paper seeks to fill the existing gap in the literature on the elderly survival in Lesotho as no studies have yet been done. The paper is composed of four sections. First, it introduces urban growth and features of poverty in the context of the developing world including Lesotho. Second, it deals with the general perspectives on urbanization and its impact on the elderly in Africa. Third, it discusses the observed repercussions of urbanization on the elderly living in Maseru and their coping strategies. The fourth section presents the conclusion and suggested ways of improving the lives of the elderly living in Maseru. The paper considers the elderly as people who are aged 60 and above.

Keywords: urbanization, aging, elderly, survival strategies, poverty

INTRODUCTION

This paper examines the impact of urbanization on the elderly and their survival strategies in an increasingly urbanizing city of Maseru in the period 2009-2012. In the six decades since the mid 20th century, the world has experienced phenomenal urban growth, especially in the developing world. This growth has been closely associated with increasing levels of poverty and deprivation characterized by lack of access to safe water supplies, proper sanitation and access to assets. Other features include slums, informal settlements, low employment and increasing dependence of the vulnerable groups on public assistance. In Africa, there has been subjection of cities to a profound disjuncture between demographic, economic and political structures. The urban population in the region has been doubling every seven years. This demographic shift is taking place within a context of low rates of economic growth and political engagement between the state and civil society. Lesotho, while sharing these experiences, is also one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 149 out of 179 according to the UN Human Development Index. This has largely determined the nature of urbanization, with deepening economic problems in most of the country, rural and urban, resulting in poverty. Nevertheless, there has been a profound shift in location of that poverty. Whereas before it was overwhelmingly a rural phenomenon, now poverty is urbanized. In addition, due to the nature of urban development in the country, poverty is primarily concentrated in Maseru - the primary city of this small, land-locked country. This paper specifically focus on the elderly group living in Maseru, examining first, the impact of urbanization on the elderly, second, their survival within the rapid growth of Maseru and last, suggestive improvement measures are discussed regarding the elderly living in the city.

METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted in three areas of Motimposo, Sekamaneng and Thibella in Maseru. The study was based on a selected number of poor households where the elderly were the units of analysis within such households. About 120 households were selected for this study. …

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