Launch of the study report “Older People’s Associations in East and Southeast Asia: a Four Country Study”
Tuesday 17 October 2017, 10.00-12.30
The Centre for Women and Development, Hanoi, Vietnam
Today (Tuesday 17th October 2017), HelpAge International is launching the first findings of a study of Older People’s Associations (OPAs) conducted by the University of Oxford (Oxford Institute of Population Ageing) in 4 Asian countries.
Older people’s associations (OPAs) are innovative community-based organisations. It is an approach that actively engages senior citizens as agents of change. This type of organisations has been established in different countries in East and Southeast Asia for over 10 years.
The Asia Pacific region is at the forefront of population ageing and the number of older people is expected to triple by 2050 to 1,265 million. At this point, one in every four people will be over the age of 60. Population ageing presents challenges and societies must adapt to it, for example by forming their own community-based organisations which enhance the skills and commitment of older people.
In 2015, the University of Oxford (Oxford Institute of Population Ageing) was commissioned by Age International, the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific and HelpAge International, to carry out the research study of OPAs to assess the impact of their approaches on key aspects of the well-being of older people: Health and care, income security and social integration.
“They (OPAs) can be seen as a single, community development approach to improving the wellbeing of older people in low- and middle- income countries in the region,” Kenneth Howse, researcher of Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, stated in the report.
A team of researchers visited a total of 72 OPAs in Cambodia, China, Myanmar and Vietnam to collect data and to explore members’ views on the achievements of the OPAs and the challenges they faced.
“We can say a great deal about how they benefited from these activities. OPAs provide services and forms of support that are highly valued by members, and often also by non-members,” said Howse.
This research offers useful insights of the conditions for successful establishment and replicability of the OPA approach. The report also identifies gaps and areas for improvement.
HelpAge International views that the OPA approach is a platform to improve the quality of life and strengthen the voice of older people.
“Population ageing transforms the demographic configuration of societies significantly and that means countries need to adapt this systems and social patterns to response to the rapid change. This research shows that the older people’s associations can complement government policies and programmes responding to population ageing and provide clear benefits to older people, their families and communities,” said Eduardo Klien, Regional Director of HelpAge International Asia Pacific Regional Office.
Older People’s Associations (OPAs)
Groups or organisations of and for older people are found throughout the Asia region and fall into two main categories. First, several countries have wide coverage of organisations for older people established by the government or semi-government agencies. Second, building on the potential of such groups for broader developmental impact, a multifunctional older people’s association (OPA) approach was developed. OPAs are community-based organisations that mobilise older people to improve their own lives and to contribute to the development of their communities across many domains.
Download a briefing on Older People’s Associations.