Lockdown Induced Diminished Remittances Worsens Older People’s Poverty

Elderly people from various parts of Bulawayo are reeling in extreme hardships and poverty due to diminished remittances caused by the Covid19 Lockdowns in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa among other countries.

A Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights snap survey shows that among other issues, diminished returns is worsening food insecurity amongst the elderly and also affecting their ability to buy medication, pay bills and provide sanitary wear for their grandchildren which are under their care.

“It has become very difficult as I am stuck here with these 8 grandchildren and I don’t know what to feed them as their parents in South `Africa are not able to send anything since they are also not going to work due to this corona virus” lamented Gogo MaMoyo from Hyde Park in Bulawayo. Some of Gogo MaMoyo’s grandchildren are teenagers who are in need of sanitary wear.

Another elderly lady in Cowdray Park explained to MIHR that she has a chronic disease and she is no longer able to buy her regular supply of medication pharmacies as her only child in Bulawayo who survives on vending has not been making money for more than a month now due to the lockdown period.

Khulu Nyathi from Mpopoma suburb bemoaned his failure to pay electricity and burial society fees due to failure by his grandchildren to support him. “Abazukulu bayakhala bathi labo lapho abakhona kule lockdown so ngizihlalele nje, amagetsi secitshile le burial lokhe ngixolisa” (my grandchildren are failing to send any money as where they are – in south Africa – there is lockdown also and as you can see electricity has run out and I have been giving excuses at the burial society).

Globally, elderly persons have been the worst affected by the Covid19 pandemic as they are vulnerable both to the corona virus infection and to the lockdown effects. Recently the United Nations released a policy brief on older persons and Covid19. The policy brief indicates that older persons are the more visible victims of the Corona virus epidemic due to pre-existing conditions such as chronic illnesses. It further notes that in China approximately 80 percent of Covid19 deaths were among adults aged 60 years and over. Similarly, “as of 16 March, 80 percent of deaths associated with Covid-19 in the United States were among adults aged 65 and over”. The World Health Organization has reported that over 95 percent of fatalities due to Covid19 in Europe have been 60 years or older.  The UN policy brief further notes disturbing cases of discriminations, social stigma and stereotypes being perpetuated to older persons due to the Covid19 pandemic.

In launching the UN policy Brief on Older Persons and Covid19, the UN Secretary General Mr António Guterres reiterated the need for “all social, economic and humanitarian responses must take the needs of older people fully into account, from universal health coverage to social protection, decent work and pensions”.

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights is running the Covid19 Monitoring and Engagement (COME) Project that monitors Covid19 and the project has specific focus on monitoring the impact of Covid19 on older persons in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe.

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