By Cecilia Ologunagba
New York, Feb. 15, 2023
Dr Emem Omokaro, a Nigerian Panelist at the ageing Forum in New York, United States of America (USA), has said that lack of awareness of the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) is a big challenge in the implementing of the plan in Africa.
Omokaro, the Director-General, National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC) of Nigeria, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the 61st session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development (CSocD61).
CSocD61, the advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development, which started its meeting on Feb. 6 ends Feb. 15 at the UN headquarters in New York.
Omokaro spoke to NAN after presenting a “Statement of Africa on Fourth Review and Appraisal of the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) in Africa 2018-2022: Key Findings and Recommendation.’’
MIPAA offers a comprehensive action plan for handling the issue of ageing in the 21st-century.
It focuses on three priority areas: older persons and development; advancing health and well-being into old age and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.
According to her, MIPAA review in the African region reveals that implementation is lagging due to lack of awareness and utilisation of the Plan as a policy instrument.
“It shows that unlike other development frameworks, there is limited awareness and understanding of MIPAA, consequently hampering its domestication into regional and national policy and programmes.
“MIPPA is not as popular as we have the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and it is not mainstreamed into the popular policy framework like the UN decade on Ageing.
“The low response rate by Member States to the review could be attributed to this, therefore, there is urgent need to popularise and mobilise commitment to MIPAA across the region.’’
She said MIPAA was never mentioned in inter-ministerial discussions on policies by so doing older Persons were not mainstreamed in development plans.
Omokaro said institutional and human resource capacity were really lagging behind in the African region, noting that the lack of national legislation to compel the establishment of statutory coordinating entities on ageing.
“There is no way you can implement the pact which calls for multi sectoral approach where you do not have opportunities to enhance knowledge and the capacities of policymakers.
“You need to enhance the knowledge of policymakers, planners and implementers to understand ageing and to understand how to develop programmes and develop monitoring and evaluation frameworks.
“So, if they are empowered, they would be seeing ageing as a development issue not poverty issue,’’ she said.
Omokaro said limited research capacity and paucity of disaggregated data management system on older persons that enabled proper planning implementation and evaluation were hampering implementation of the Plan.
“Many countries are presently preparing to conduct a census, however, the period national surveys fail to integrate indicators relevant to Ageing.
“So, statistics and records on older people, older women even when you talk about violence, gender violence is capped at 49. So that is a very serious challenge, data disaggregated on older persons.’’
Omokaro said Nigeria presented the review on behalf of Africa and recommended that African countries should prioritise development of legal frameworks to compel public action and responses to the needs of the rapidly increasing ageing population.
“Also, that ageing policy should be grounded in strong legal and institutional frameworks that ensure both programme stability and recognition of older persons at rights-holders.’’
Speaking on the quality and quantitative evidence of policy environment and institutional response across the three priority areas of MIPAA, she said most countries in the region had put in place policy in income security for the citizens.
The NSCC boss said that most countries had also managed to put in place polices on social protection and social security including old age contributory pension schemes.
“Over 82 per cent of responding countries reported that they have a policy to encourage the active participation of older persons in the decision-making processes and effective participation in the development and monitoring of national policies.
“About 50 per cent of countries reported they have implemented income generating projects (credit schemes) as well as schemes for the informal sectors to support the elderly.
“Members States have introduced and implemented programme on cash transfer, and other means of social protection,’’ she said.
However, according to her, poverty, deprivation and vulnerability among older persons in Africa remain relatively high and about 69 per cent of Africa’s older persons are out of the labour force.
Omokaro further said that 69 per cent of older citizens are out of the labour force, with about 20 per cent still looking for jobs, suggesting that income from earnings is nearly non-existent for this population.
“The remaining 31 per cent who are economically active are engaged predominantly in the informal sector,’’ she said.