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Aging and Development

Overview

Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) is aging. While the region will remain younger than other parts of the world, the size of its older population (aged 60 years and above) is already considerable  —double that in northern Europe—and is expected to grow faster than anywhere else, increasing almost 4-fold from 46 million in 2015 to 157 million by 2050.  In the same period, the population share of older people will rise from 5% to 8%.  Life expectancy at age 60 years in Africa is presently 16 years for women and 14 years for men, suggesting that for those who survive early life, a long old age is already a reality. Partly in recognition of these demographic trends, sub-Saharan African countries have made noteworthy strides in seeking to ensure older people’s welfare.  In 2002 the African Union adopted a Policy framework and Plan of Action on Aging for the continent. Since then, a small but growing number of countries have developed national policy frameworks on ageing, and some are implementing or piloting social protection schemes for older people.  Despite these advances, SSA’s older population continues to be viewed as at best marginal to broader socio-economic development efforts in the region, which remain overwhelmingly focused on children, youth and ‘prime’ age adults.  At the same time, vulnerability and quality of life priorities of older Africans remain poorly understood.

 

Consequently, very few coherent, cross-sectoral responses to aging have ensued, as SSA policy makers lack certainty both about the ‘case’ for allocating resources to older people, and the specific direction that such action needs to take. Within this context, the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) has identified ‘aging’ as emerging area in its current Strategic Plan 2012-2016 and in November 2012 established the Program on Aging and Development. The Program’s remit is to promote the formulation of evidence–based policy and practice for older adults, and to advance scientific and policy debates on aging in Africa and globally.

 

Scope and Special Focus

To fulfill its purpose, the program will (a) generate and broker robust evidence and develop thought-leadership on the circumstances, perspectives and relevance to development of SSA’s older population, (b) support key regional, global and national policy role players in progressing their aging agendas and (c) shape directions for African gerontological research. The program’s activities in the current strategic plan period will centre on four focal areas.

 

 

a) Research and policy engagement to illuminate the nexus between issues of older persons and core population and development agendas in SSA, with particular focus on:

  1. Older people’s social and economic roles
  2. Older people’s intergenerational links and impacts
  3. Age-based inequalities in well-being and basic service access
  4. Long-term care systems and effects

 

 

b) Research on understanding vulnerability and well-being in old age

  1. Age-related adversity and resilience
  2. Subjective well-being in old age

 

 

c) Strategic technical support to global, regional and national ageing policy role players

  1. Development of human rights frameworks
  2. Formulation of monitoring and evaluation approaches and framework
  3. Forging of mechanisms for national evidence generation on aging

 

 

d) Agenda setting for African gerontology

  1. Defining focal areas and challenges for African social science research on aging
  2. Convening of African aging research forums

 

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