by Prakash Tyagi, Executive Director, GRAVIS
India’s ability to overcome its development challenges will increasingly depend on how it addresses the implications of population aging. The number of people over 60 has now surpassed 100 million, and many of these older people, especially in rural areas, are sliding deeper into poverty. Accompanying old-age poverty are significant health and nutrition needs. Increasingly, these needs will go unmet because health services in rural areas remain severely limited.
Meanwhile, younger generations continue to migrate to urban slums, creating an inter-generational gap in communities across India. The result is often loneliness and isolation. Behind this backdrop of poverty and migration, those who already face discrimination and economic disadvantage are becoming even more marginalized in their communities.
GRAVIS, a HelpAge affiliate in India, takes a holistic approach to restore older people’s dignity in society and supporting overall wellbeing. In 2018, GRAVIS focused on three program areas:
- Developing older people groups, and their capacity building and empowerment. These include Village Older People’s Associations (VOPAs) and Older Women-led Self Help Groups (SHGs). Over 400 such groups now exist in the Thar Desert of India.
- Empowering older people to lead GRAVIS’s drought mitigation intervention to enhance food and nutrition security, increasing the availability of drinking water, and reducing poverty.
- Providing direct health support to older people including medical services, long-term care, self-care training, and health education. Over 100,000 older people benefited from our interventions in 2018.
Through all these programs, GRAVIS focuses on developing inter-generational bonds and empowering older women, in particular. We strongly believe that older women deserve greater respect in their communities and have the knowledge and wisdom to contribute towards community development goals.
Naktui, a VOPA leader from a remote village, says that inter-generational bonds are so important for their society. “We have faced our challenges together for many, many years within our families and communities, and we must continue doing so. Young or old, we all need help and we all can give something.”
“We have faced our challenges together for many, many years within our families and communities, and we must continue doing so. Young or old, we all need help and we all can give something.”
On International Human Rights Day, December 10th, GRAVIS organized events to remember older people’s challenges and their contributions. As we move into the new year, GRAVIS envisions reaching out to more older people in 2019 to expand on the progress we’ve made. Holistic development will not be possible without meaningful inclusion of older people, and of older women.