Promoting Older People’s Participation in Development in Rural Bangladesh

Duration : February, 2009 to February, 2013.
Implemented by : Resource Integration Centre (RIC)
Supported by : HelpAge International
Funded by : European Commission

Overall objective: Enhance the participation and empowerment of the rural poor in Bangladesh through the joint efforts of Non State Actors and Local Authorities. Specific objective: Empower 338 village-based civil society organizations led by older people in Bangladesh to engage with local authorities for more effective, transparent, and inclusive local services addressing their poverty and health. The main target group is older people (Elderly people) in rural areas who will form Community Based Organizations (Older People’s Associations). A total of 33,163 older people and 294 Union Parishad (Local Authority) members. Area coverage:

  • Cox’s Bazar District, Moheshkhali Sub-district (Nine Unions), Bangaladesh
  • Rangpur District, Gangachara Sub-district (Ten Unions), Bangaladesh
  • Gazipur District, Gazipur Sadar Sub-district (20 Villages), Bangaladesh

Expected Results as bellows:
Result 1: 338 strong community based organizations give older people a more participatory voice
Result 2: National NSA partner increasingly capable to develop sustainable community based organizations that can advocate for older people
Result 3: More effective, transparent, and inclusive local support to address the poverty of the most vulnerable
Result 4: More responsive and appropriate local health care and expanded health seeking behavior for older people
Result 5: Older people in 19 Unions better prepared for natural disaster.

Main Activities:

Consultations, training and capacity building with communities, local authorities, banks and service providers; baseline survey; establishment and training of Older People’s Associations (OPAs) and monitoring teams; partner training and capacity building, advocacy strategy development; project monitoring, evaluation and audit; piloted sponsorship approach for 100 poorest older women; awareness raising sessions with older people, pilot community based home care; development of community based disaster risk reduction action plans for older people. Common Problem to be addressed:

  • Older people in Bangladesh are often marginalized and have no local organizational structures that allow them to meet collectively or participate actively in their community’s economic, social and political life. Older women face dual discrimination as a result of being female and old.
  • In addition, few national Non State Actors (NSAs) in Bangladesh have the experience and capacity to promote the local participation of older people, highlight their needs, or implement activities that reduce their marginalization. As a result, they are largely a forgotten vulnerable group.
  • Many of the poorest older people do not have easy and transparent access to local support to address their poverty. The government does provide small cash transfers to poor older people through the Old Age Allowance and Widows Allowance schemes, but only a minority of the eligible poor benefit. Selection of the schemes’ recipients is by the Local Authorities (LA), and the process is often quite arbitrary with personal relationships and kinship ties playing a key role in the process. Delivery of the allowances are through the banks which may be some considerable distance from the recipients’ homes, which means significant travel costs may be incurred and waiting times to receive allowances at the banks are often long.
  • To maintain their health, older people lack both responsive services and personal awareness of how to care for themselves. Older people often do not use the public health services because of poor service, high cost, and limited information, and instead they resort to spiritual healing, self-care and self-medication without proper guidance. They often suffer physically and economically from preventable or treatable illnesses and conditions, and some are unable to perform even activities of daily living.
  • Older people are among those most at risk from the natural disasters that frequently strike Bangladesh, yet are among the most neglected in disaster preparedness. The active aged rarely have much chance to make a positive contribution using their experience, while those most at risk, such as the bed-ridden, may not be included.