Older people constitute a significant and growing number of those affected by humanitarian crises. About 12.5 per cent of the world’s population is aged 60 or over. The United Nations defines older people as those who are above 60 years.
However, the definition should be adapted to local contexts. For example, in many developing countries, people aged 50 are considered old, owing to cultural and social factors that contribute to the perception of someone as being “old”.
Using this cut-off point, the global population of older people stands at 22 per cent. The unprecedented growth in the number of older people worldwide has significantly changed the demographic and epidemiological profile of disaster affected populations.1 At the heart of humanitarian action are the principles of humanity and impartiality.
All people have equal value and dignity, and the exclusion of an individual or a group on grounds of nationality, religion or politics is contrary to the humanitarian ethos. Humanitarian principles affirm that everyone has the right to humanitarian assistance: “no one should be discriminated against on any grounds of status, including age, gender”.2 “If invisibility, exclusion and powerlessness are common themes emerging from the experience of older people, then consultation, inclusion and empowerment through partnership have emerged as the primary indicators for best practice.”3 The core theme of this document is the inclusion and empowerment of older people and other vulnerable groups through consultation and consideration during the design and implementation of food security and livelihoods programmes.