Between May and June 2012, HelpAge International implemented an initial multisectoral needs assessment (food security & livelihoods, health and protection) focusing on older people in all five Governorates of the Gaza Strip. The assessment team made up of representatives from eight agencies/organisations with diverse mandates, collected samples from urban and rural areas, refugee camps, the buffer zone, as well as from Bedouin and refugee hosting communities. Using the result the assessment maps the different profiles and urgent needs of older people to ensure their recognition as a key vulnerable group requiring the attention of assistance providers.
The key findings of the assessment are as follows (sectoral findings follow):
The main gaps for older people are: access to and, accessibility of services resulting in an overall lack of inclusion of older people and their needs in the delivery of services by multiple actors with a range of mandates.
Older people accounts for up to the 8.9 % of the total population in oPt and have a range of needs related to their age. Currently, almost none of the actors delivering basic services employ mechanisms or approaches to ensure older people’s inclusion in service provision, or ensure their basic needs are met. As a result many older people are dependent on support provided by their family and community which is not always appropriate or adequate to meet their needs.
The cut off for old age in oPt should be 50, not 60 years. At this age the reproductive cycle is over and as a result the power dynamics of women within the household change; many older people are no longer able to work due to injury or the impact of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) or chronic conditions; while chronic exposure to political violence accelerates ageing. This cut off must be applied as a means of ensuring greater inclusion of older people in assistance and not simply create a larger group of people excluded from support because they are “old”.
Assistance delivered must make use of and build older people’s skills and capacities, and where necessary provides remedial actions to address their vulnerabilities. Ultimately the introduction of age disaggregation criteria in the planning of programmes should allow for the tailoring of response design for all age groups improving quality and effectiveness.
Responses designed to address the needs of older people must have a multi-sectorial and rights based approach. The assessment team in Gaza found a clear interconnection between all three sectors analysed justifying an approach aimed at inclusion of older people in service provision more broadly, rather than prioritisation of one sector over another.