Press Releases

    10 April 2002


    MADRID, 9 April (UNFPA) -- Population ageing is increasingly becoming an issue of concern in many parts of the world. A new publication from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) explains why.

    Situation and Voices of the Older Poor and Excluded in South Africa and India, a new publication of the UNFPA, was produced as a contribution to the United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing, which is taking place between 8 and 12 April. The publication is being launched at the Assembly in Madrid today.

    The report examines key issues related to population ageing that affect older poor women and men in South Africa and India. The main concerns of older people, according to the publication, relate to conditions of extreme poverty such as inadequate health care, lack of national and social protection, and violence.

    Older persons, particularly women, are increasingly taking care of their grandchildren orphaned by AIDS, the report adds, even though they themselves are often in extreme poverty and in urgent need of help.

    "Meeting the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 requires that poverty reduction strategies focus on the poorest and most vulnerable older persons, especially women," said Thoraya Obaid, the UNFPA’s Executive Director. "That is because a significant proportion of the 400 million older persons in developing countries live in extreme poverty."

    The UNFPA’s work on population ageing is guided by the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the recommendations of the 1999 "ICPD+5" General Assembly special session and the Declaration of the Millennium Summit of September 2000. The Fund advocates for the mainstreaming of ageing issues into the international community's development agenda, particularly the needs of the older poor.

    The Fund is calling attention to some significant challenges that should be considered to develop policies and programmes to cater for older persons’ needs and rights. These include:

    • provision of health care services to older persons;
    • provision of social services for older persons;
    • Support for the care older persons provide to AIDS-orphaned grandchildren; and
    • elimination all forms of violence against older persons.

    Situation and Voices of the Older Poor and Excluded in South Africa and India is available in English. Copies may be obtained from the Director, Technical Support Division, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 220 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017, United States of America. It will also be accessible at the Fund's Web site:

    The UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance. Since it became operational in 1969, it has provided about $5.6 billion in assistance to developing countries. The United Nations General Assembly has welcomed the positive contributions the Fund has made since then in improving the quality of human life.

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