Various non-governmental organisations and civil society groups that represent the interests of pensioners and the elderly are calling on the Ministry of Local Government and Social Affairs to establish a forum that would cater for their interests.
Rwanda Association of Retired (ARR), Rwanda Associations of Older Persons (ARPA), Inteko Izirikana and faith-based organisations Nsindagiza and Inshuti z’Abakene, made the call on Saturday in Kanyinya Sector, Nyarugenge District, on the occsaasion of the International Day for Older Persons.
The theme for this year’s International Day for Older Persons is “Promoting Rwandan dignity by supporting older persons”.
“There is need for participation of older persons in national welfare policy for their inclusiveness. We need particular care for those who are vulnerable to poverty, illness and impairment. Our coordinated efforts could help them embrace auto promotion and dignity,’’ the group said in a joint statement.
They said the government’s policy to support them has some loopholes.
According to Elie Mugabowishema, from Nsindagiza, the NGOs are working to better coordinate their efforts.
“Many older persons are in solitude. There is an urgent need for them to register and get support,” he said.
Antoine Kiroha, the coordinator of an association of pensioners in Nyarugenge District, said establishing and expanding cooperatives for older persons is necessary.
“In Nyarugenge we formed a savings and credit cooperative to solve the issue of banks reluctance to lend money to the elderly. We wish that such cooperatives get established across the country to help the elderly become self-reliant,” he said.
Government pledged to collaborate with the organisations that represent the elderly.
“We have many initiatives such VUP umurenge, Girinka and pension services through RSSB that help the elderly. We encourage the private sector to play a role,” said Dr Alvera Mukabaramba, the State Minister for social affairs.
Dr Mukabaramba said the proposed policy on elderly persons would include components, such as helping them to establish cooperatives which aim at promoting self-reliance.
“Concerning the requests to establish a forum, we are waiting for document submission to the Ministry and then we can start discussions,” she said.
At the event, that Rwanda was observing for the 15th time, 25 vulnerable elderly persons were given cattle.
One of the beneficiaries, Faustin Gakwisi, a former technician in the defunct Eletrogaz, said he receives only Rwf 6,000 in pension monthly, which is too little to feed his family.
There are different categories of older persons; namely pensioners who worked in the civil service, those retired from the private sector, the elderly who have families to support, and those who are left without family.
Dr Mukabaramba urged citizens to contribute to the welfare of the elderly by supporting them through in any way possible.