"Promoting the rights of older persons"
As mentioned above, Malawi ranks one of the poorest countries in the world and inequality is also very high. Therefore it is not surprising that poverty among older men and women is high. This is largely due to: lack of appropriate, secure, predictable and regular income; increase in perennial disasters like floods in some districts, breakdown of the family support systems and/or absence of a universal pension scheme. Currently, only Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, and the Seychelles in Southern Africa have universal pension schemes. Lesotho and Swaziland implement near-universal schemes which only exclude beneficiaries of other pension schemes, while South Africa implements an “affluence test” which attempts to exclude older people with significant income and/or assets. Zambia has a pilot universal pension scheme which is being implemented in the Katete district. Mozambique’s PSSB scheme is a cash transfer scheme for “labour constrained households” and the majority of recipients are older persons.
Evidence from countries where social pensions exist, show a positive correlation between receipt of pensions and improved health across the household, as well as improved school attendance for children in the households.
Addressing what happens to Malawians as they grow old is critical to successfully addressing the wider development challenges facing the nation. The 0.8 million older people aged 60 and above in Malawi today have spent their lives contributing to the development of the nation, and most of them continue to be active in their communities and wider society, as breadwinners, caregivers and also provide invaluable safety net for the Malawian Society by caring for orphans due to the HIV/Aids Pandemic, hence putting additional strain on their already limited resources.