Kenya’s elderly city dwellers suffering from abuse and exclusion: report

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NAIROBI, Feb.14 (Xinhua) — The elderly population in Kenya’s rapidly growing urban centers has borne the brunt of abuse, poverty and social exclusion despite the existence of legislation to protect their rights, says a report launched in Nairobi on Friday.

According to the report titled “Living in Nairobi: emerging insights from urban research to inform older activists”, discrimination against senior citizens is rampant in cities amid weak safety nets and break down of cultural norms that placed a high premium on this demographic.

“The old people in Nairobi and many other big cities suffer from loneliness, abuse, poverty and mental health,” says the report that was compiled from a study on spatial and social barriers that hinder access to basic services by the older generation.

The study funded by World Bank and implemented by global charity HelpAge International and grassroots lobby groups focused on Nairobi’s informal settlements that are home to senior citizens with no form of social safety net.

According to the study, abject poverty, ill-health and marginalization affecting the elderly population in Nairobi is a reflection of the plight of their counterparts in other urban centers.

“The older people living in cities are also grappling with a higher rate of physical disability and homelessness,” says the study adding that ageism has become pervasive in a rapidly urbanizing Kenya.

The majority of the elderly people interviewed during the study said they felt insecure inside their makeshift homes in Nairobi and worried about infectious diseases thanks to poor sanitation.

“While 62 percent of older people have access to a toilet at home, the use of public toilets among those who do not have one decline with age. The higher the age, the less one uses public toilets,” says the study.

Roseline Kihumba, acting head of Network Coordination and Development at HelpAge International, said the study’s findings are key to inform policymakers on strategies required to improve the welfare of elderly population living in cities.

“Policymakers should interact with older persons and come up with effective strategies to improve service delivery tailor-made for this critical segment of the population,” said Kihumba.

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