Malawi Network of Older Persons’ Organisation (MANEPO) has hailed government for its bold decision to introduce an inclusive old age pension.
The old age pension has been introduced in order to address high levels of poverty and vulnerability among older men and women in the country.
A recent feasibility study of a universal old age pension in Malawi carried out by Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social welfare in collaboration with MANEPO and HelpAgeInternational in 2016, shows an urgent need to ensure income security for the elderly people in Malawi.
In his state of national address on Friday during the opening of the 3rd meeting in the 47th session of parliament and 2018/2019 budget meeting, President Peter Mutharika committed his government to work on a pension scheme to eradicate social and economic hardships the elderly face.
Briefing journalists on Sunday in Blantyre, MANEPO Executive Director Andrew Kavala said the President remarks show that he is aligning the national development agenda towards responding to real situation of the most vulnerable groups especially old aged persons.
“Growing old mostly comes with new challenges such as levels of chronic illness and disability increases with old age which make it harder for the elderly to continue carrying out productive activities.
“Again, the current informal and formal social security systems have limited scope to provide security for such older Malawians, as such, many of them spend their old age marginalized from family as well as community life.
“President sentiments therefore demonstrate political will his government has towards alleviating the poverty in old age and as MANEPO, we are grateful and we will render all technical expertise to ensure that an old age pension becomes a reality sooner than later ,” said Kavala.
He explained that once the pension scheme is implemented, it will among other things support older people to live their later years in dignity and restore their lost status in society thereby reducing witchcraft related accusations.
“A universal pension scheme piloted atKatetein Zambia was found to reduce accusations of witchcraft with older people been now seen as assets by communities rather than a burden, we believe the same can happen in our country,” he said.
Meanwhile, MANEPO plans to carry out pre pension baseline survey to among other things to establish age and mode of administering the pension scheme to benefit the intended group.
Universal pension schemes have been of particular importance in low income economies, Many countries such as Mauritus, Namibia and South Africa have had social pensions in place and have proven successful in promoting income security, dignity and well being for older people.
Malawi is said to have close to 800,000 older people who are aged 60 and above.-MANA