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HelpAge International

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1 HelpAge International
Old Age, Poverty and Exclusion in Bolivia Beyond disaggregation? Fiona Clark Director for Programmes and Policy Latin America Regional Development Centre

2 Policies for older people
Bolivia, despite being one of the poorest countries has a progressive policy environment for older people Law 1886 for rights of older people including free health care, non-contributory universal pension (Bonosol), National Plan on Ageing. Bolivian Government preparation for and participation in 2WAA, Madrid Decentralised government through law for popular participation and law of municipalities PRSP (2001) recognises older people as vulnerable and recommends expansion of health insurance and cash transfers that benefit older people. But these policies and laws are often not reaching the most marginalied or the poorest in rural areas. Very little information about situation of older people in Bolivia Bolivia, despite being one of the poorest countries has a progressive policy environment for older people Law 1886 for rights of older people including free health care, non-contributory universal pension (Bonosol), National Plan on Ageing. PRSP (2001) recognises older people as vulnerable and recommends expansion of health insurance and cash transfers that benefit older people. But these policies and laws are often not reaching the most marginalied or the poorest in rural areas. Very little information about situation of older people in Bolivia In 2002, HelpAge International LARDC approached the National Institute of Statistics (INE) with a proposal to draw on the 2001 Census data and 2002 household survey data (MECOVI), comparing this with 1976 and 1992 data, in order to collate relevant information for a study on ageing in Bolivia. A project was set up bringing in UNFPA and DFID as sponsors, drawing on the expertise of two demographers to analyse the data. This was supported by a multi-agency committee. Regular meetings three months between these partners agreed on what information was most needed and reviewed results. Findings were published in two books and sent to national agencies and all of Bolivia’s 314 municipal governments.

3 The data question What we already knew What disaggregation told us
Older people made up 7% of Bolivia’s population. This will rise to 17% by 2050. In some localities of Bolivia older people make up nearly 20% of the population. 38 %of Bolivia’s population live in rural areas. 50% of older people live in rural areas. The rural population ratio between young and old is 22% compared to 15.5% in urban areas. 59 % of Bolivians live in poverty. 63% of older people live in poverty. Chuquisaca, Oruro and Potosi are the “oldest” departments of Bolivia and they are also the poorest. 14% of the population could not read and write 50% of the adult population had completed primary education 69% of older people classify themselves as indigenous, 47% have no education and 32% are monolingual What did we already know from existing data sets? “Premature ageing” due to rural-urban migration What are some of the things disagregation told us? Potosi 13.6%, La Paz 16.1%, Oruro 19.8% This is two or three times the national average. Furthermore we now know that 32% of Bolivia’s older people in La Paz department. Information reflected on the demographic maps – darkest areas are the oldest.

4 The poverty of older people
Older people live at higher risk of poverty than the overall population 63% of older people live in poverty 31% of older people do not have any kind of income 22% of older people are pensioners Only 13% of women and 10% of rural older people are pensioned. So to go into a little more detail. This is what the data disaggregation tells us about older people´s poverty. Older people live at higher risk of poverty than the overall population 63% of older people (compared to 59% of the overall population) live in poverty. This is to say that they live in poor quality housing, lack water and sanitation, and have low levels of education and poor access to health services. However you measure poverty older people´s poverty is high – 60% (unsatisfied basic needs) or 70% (chronic poverty, 90% in rural areas) 31% of older people do not have any kind of income Older people in rural areas have only 39% of the income of older people in urban areas, 43% of Bolivia’s GDP per capita income. 22% of older people are pensioners (down from 27% in 1992), Only 13% of women and 10% of rural older people are pensioned. And to put a face to these statistics you can see there a group of older people from a rural area of Oruro. These people are peasant farmers who work hard on the land under the harsh conditions of the altiplano to scrape together enough food for themselves and their families over the year. They will not have gone to school, they will not have access to health services and they will likely have incomes levels way below the national average. Older people working in isolated small communities in rural area of Oruro, on the altiplano. Most people live off the land and consume most of what they produce.

5 Rural poverty In rural areas older people’s poverty reaches 90%.
Older people in rural areas have only 39% of the income of older people in urban areas In those areas with highest % of older people, % incidence of poverty among older people Northern Potosi One of the poorest areas of Bolivia 10+% of the population over 60 Average older people-headed household consists of 2 older persons and 7 younger dependents Some of these households have monthly incomes as low as 4 US dollars.  Ca. 70% of the older people in the Potosi department live in small one or two-room mud-brick houses with dirt floors and 71% of these houses do not have electricity. Many speak only Quechua Source: Household surveys from local partner CIPE Although the older population is split almost 50/50 between urban and rural areas their poverty in rural areas is significantly higher. 90% of older people live in poverty in rural areas, compared to 70% in urban areas. Older people in rural areas have only 39% of the income of older people in urban areas In those areas with highest % of older people, % incidence of poverty among older people In this example in northern Potosi … This data in fact comes from household surveys conducted by teh partner organization CIPE in the communities where they are operational. Older women are amongst the poorest... (Picture) Older women in Northern Potosi are amongst the poorest. Local partner CIPE supports them to grow vegetables to enhance their diets and improve food security for them and their families.

6 Ethnicity, language and social exclusion
Illiteracy, poor education and ethnic origin increase social exclusion among older people 43.5% of older people are illiterate (30% men, 70% women). In rural areas 8 out of every 10 older women does not read or write. 47% of older people do not have any kind of education, 32% of older people speak only their native language (56% in rural areas). For 61% of older people a native language is their mother tongue Their income is a fifth of the income of older people who speak Spanish or both languages. Information that is not always analysed in relation to poverty relates to ethnicity, language and the resultant social exclusion High levels of illiteracy, low levels of education and dependence on native languages lead to “acute social exclusion” among older people, as stated in the report of the data analysis. 43.5% of older people are illiterate, 27.3% of older men and 72.7% of older women. In rural areas 8 out of every 10 older women does not read or write. 47% of older people do not have any kind of education, only 30% completed primary education 32% of older people speak only their native language (56% in rural areas) and their income is a fifth of the income of older people who speak Spanish or both languages All of the above increase older people´s social exclusion and lrelated poverty. The awichas – which is aymara for grandmother, are a group of aymara older people, mostly women who bear all these characteristics and have therefore been working hard for a number of years to generate incomes and raise awareness on older people’s rights. This is key if me are to reduce older people’s social exclusion and related poverty and ensure their access to services. The Awichas - a group of Aymara older people - work in the city and rural areas of El Alto to generate income and raise awarenss of the rights of older people

7 Access to services 8% of older people have no form identity document (70% in rural areas, and 60% of older women) At least the same number again, has errors in their identity papers In 2005 of the older people attended in the socio legal centres supported by HelpAge International, 43% of cases attended to related to problems of errors in identity documents Not having these papers means older people cannot claim their right to free health care, their state pension and other rights under the law. Socio legal centers provide advice and information to older people and help them access their entitlements A key issue related to accessing services is that of documentation. This violates the primary right of every person to an identity and prohibits the exercise of citizenship by older people. Furthermore it has massive implications for older people´s ability to access services. If you are: discriminated against because of your age, gender and ethnic origin, are not able to read or be understood due to language differences do not have your basic identity papers in order you are effectively barred from accessing entitlements AND from exercising basic citizenship rights such as voting and participating in local planning and monitoring of local public investment.

8 HelpAge International
Older people contribute to the economic well being of their families 46% of older people are economically active, 60% in rural areas. 85% of the latter work in the informal agriculture sector or petty trading. 18% of Bolivian households are headed by an older person and 60% of older people are heads of households 32% of these are headed by an older woman, and 9% are made up only of the older couple and grandchildren. Despite all the problems I have described and what the data shows us is that older people continue to make significant contributions to their own livelihoods and to their families. …… However, older people are often not counted in the economically active population. Rather they are categorised under the dependency ratio. This denies the agency of older people and fails to see the reality of older people´s lives in developing countries where most of them will work into their very old years, until they are no longer physically capable of doing so and often supporting other family members including grandchildren. The Awichas knit scarves, gloves and children's toys to sell.

9 So what does this tell us?
Older people face high levels of poverty and exclusion, especially in rural areas. Older people are working to sustain their livelihoods and support other family members, especially grandchildren. Distance from service providers, language barriers, and lack of documentation prohibit older people from accessing services, thus increasing their poverty and exclusion Even if older people know about their rights they find it hard to access them due to the urban bias. So in summary the data analysis confirms what we knew from our own qualitative research and our programme work on the ground. This exercise has allowed us to cross demographic, poverty and other indicators, showing not only the numbers and percentages of older people, but that in Bolivia the face of poverty is that of: an older, illiterate, Quechau or Aymara speaking woman living in a rural area, most likely looking after a number of grandchildren on her own.

10 Beyond the data Policy implications
Data should be disaggregated by age, gender and ethnicity as a matter of course to allow for more targeted and informed policy development and implementation and to help prioritise government funds and international aid, targeting the poorest and in the most effective ways. Any strategy in Bolivia that aims to alleviate poverty must directly and specifically target older people and their family (especially in rural areas) Adult literacy programmes as well as increased government services that cater for monolingual native language speakers are essential. Social protection, support of livelihood strategies, documentation and rights education are critical for older people to claim their entitlements So having this level of data disagregation is useful for visibilising the real situation of older women and men in Bolivia and allow for real targeting towards the poorest sections of society. Traditional methods of measuring poverty obscure the poverty and exclusion of older people. This invisibility leads to a similar absence of older people in policies and programmes to reduce poverty and tackle social exclusion. It is essential to analyse and understand the dry numbers presented here within the realities and complexities of older people’s lives. This can only be done through the direct participation of poor older people themselves in poverty analysis and the design of poverty reduction plans. Having the data is not enough - the problems still remain. Governments and those working in development at a national and international level must do more to ensure that they reach out and seek the views of older people and their families even and indeed especially in rural areas and must ensure that they address the multifaceted and multidimensional nature of poverty. Furthermore citizens must be empowered to claim their rights and continue to play an active role in their families, communities and society as a whole, if the global right to development is indeed to be a right for all.

11 “Nothing about us, without us”
For those of you who still think that there are no older people in developing countries or that their numbers are too insignificant to worry about, I leave you with this photograph of a rights education workshop in rural Bolivia. THANK YOU. Workshop on older people's rights, rural Bolivia


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