Strengthening data collection to address ageing in Africa

Africa is a young continent. However, the region and its population are ageing. As Africa’s population continues to grow, so does the number of older people. Overall, the number of people aged 60 years or over in the region is projected to increase by of 63 per cent, from 64.4 million in 2015 to 105.4 million in 2030.

While people over the age of 60 play a vital role in African society, they experience economic and social exclusion, poverty, discrimination, violence and abuse. Moreover, the lack of registration at birth still remains a serious issue, since it prevents people to benefit from their rights, such as health services or pensions.

In 2002, African governments have formally adopted the African Union Policy Framework and Plan of Action on Ageing (AU Plan) that builds upon the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA). In the framework of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals and related targets, data and statistics on older persons are considered vital in order to achieve the 2030 Development Agenda.

With this in mind, stakeholders in global development gathered at the 49th session of the Commission on Population and Development, at UN Headquarters on 11-15 April, examining the theme ‘Strengthening the demographic evidence base for the post-2015 development agenda’.

Alongside the consultations, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Malawi to the United Nations, UN DESA’s Population Division and Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), organized a side event entitled “Toward an ‘evidence revolution’ on ageing: Initiatives for data collection for older people in Africa”, on 12 April.

The event highlighted the importance of full consideration of ageing in the formulation of programmes and policies, within the framework of the 2030 Agenda, and the United Nations Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), adopted by African governments in April 2002.

Lot Dzonzi, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Malawi to the UN, raised the necessity of strengthening the evidence base, producing accurate data, insuring affordable healthcare, as well as protecting women from abuse.

The event also provided an opportunity for UN DESA to present its initiative on developing a standard methodology to produce and analyze harmonized indicators on the situation of older persons in Africa. Karoline Schmid, Inter-Regional Advisor in DSPD/UN DESA, presented the development of a survey instrument tailored to the situation of older persons in African countries, aiming at supporting countries in collecting and analyzing older persons data.

The final survey methodology is expected to be presented during the African Statistical Commission in 2017, as a tool to monitor the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda.

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