Malawi is expected to have a universal old age pension scheme for the elderly to address social and economical challenges faced by older persons in the country.
This follows a study report on the feasibility of a universal old age pension in Malawi which was commissioned by Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare in 2016.
The study revealed that the existing informal and formal social security systems such as Katapila, Village Savings and Loans, Social Cash Transfer Programme and Public Work programme have limited scope and coverage leaving a large group of poor Malawians including older persons without adequate support.
Speaking after presiding over the official launch of the report on Saturday in Blantyre, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Dr Jean Kalilani said it is sad that the elderly persons continue to work for as long as they possibly can, to meet their basic needs.
“Some of them resort to begging as a coping mechanism for them to survive. Breakdown of traditional systems of care and support have also made the situation of older persons to be dire. Old age poverty and destitution are becoming a common phenomenon in Malawi,” explained Kalilani.
The Minister said it is against this background that her ministry commissioned the study in order to explore the options for responding to the social and economic hardships people face when they grow.
She then said her ministry in conjunction with other concerned stakeholders such as Malawi Network of Older Persons Organisation (Manepo) will make full use of the findings in their policy as well as programme to bring a meaningful change in the lives of old people.
Kalilani added that she is optimistic that once the findings are implemented, the establishment of the pension scheme would transform the lives of old age people and make a major contribution to the achievement of wider developmental goals.
In his remarks, Help Age Africa Regional Director, Dr Prafulla Mishra commended government for its commitment to institute pension scheme for the elderly saying it would go a long way in uplifting the welfare of old people in Malawi.
“Malawi is one of the best countries in Africa which has put the welfare of the aged persons at heart. The plan, to establish the scheme for such vulnerable group is a clear manifestation of Malawi’s commitment to address social and economic challenges faced by old people,” he said.
Manepo Executive Director Andew Kanvala also said the launch of the report on the study is a milestone in the history of Malawi in as far as taking appropriate, inclusive and aged friendly means of addressing specific vulnerabilities in old age is concerned.
He said: “Manepo is of the view that addressing what happens to Malawians as the grow old is critical to successfully addressing the wider development challenges facing the nation,” he said.
Malawi is said to have 0.8 million older people who are aged 60 and above.