A man (L) checks on food items at a makeshift restaurant in Bondeni slum in Nakuru County, Kenya, April 25, 2020. (Xinhua/Sheikh Maina)
Kenya marked the International Day of Older Persons on Thursday amid calls for increased cash stipend for the vulnerable demographic that has borne the brunt of COVID-19 related disruptions.
NAIROBI, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Kenya marked International Day of Older Persons on Thursday amid calls for increased cash stipend for the vulnerable demographic that has borne the brunt of COVID-19 related disruptions.
Carole Ageng'o, regional director for international charity HelpAge International, said that reliable and adequate cash injection into social safety nets programs for the elderly is critical during the pandemic era.
"We call upon the government and other stakeholders to ensure that older people have access to adequate cash stipend amid social and economic disruptions caused by COVID-19," Ageng'o said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
She lauded the government for timely disbursement of financial assistance to the elderly population at the height of the pandemic in May, adding that it shielded them from the risk of hunger, disease and dislocation.
"The older people require additional and consistent support in the face of reduced assistance from other sources including families, businesses and well-wishers due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Ageng'o.
She said the pandemic amplified discrimination, neglect and poverty that have taken a heavier toll on older people who comprise nearly 6 percent of Kenya's population.
"The elderly population was in particular affected by lost incomes, restricted movement, physical distancing and isolation measures that were meant to curb the spread of coronavirus," said Ageng'o.
Jude Otogo, health advisor at HelpAge International, said that COVID-19 exposed systemic inequalities and discrimination that has denied older persons opportunities to contribute to Kenya's economic and social progress.
"We have seen discriminatory age-based policies, and older people stereotyped as frail, vulnerable and unable to decide for themselves," said Otogo.
He said that fiscal incentives combined with the enactment of age-sensitive policies and public awareness is key to cushion senior citizens from economic hardships and poor health outcomes during the pandemic.
More than 800,000 Kenyans aged 70 years and above are entitled to a monthly stipend of 2,000 shillings (about 19 U.S. dollars) that help them meet basic needs like food, shelter and medication. ■