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Income Support and the Promotion of the Rights of the Elderly in Lesotho

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The low economic status of the elderly has been recognized and yet little research has been carried out in this area. The poverty of old people translates into poor health and nutrition, high levels of risk, problems of generating income, acute difficulties in sustaining the burdens brought by HIV and AIDS, migration, conflict, and the loss of land-based assets, violence and psychological pressures. The purpose of the study was to investigate how the rights of older people were realized. It reports on the rights to independence that ensures income security and access to food, shelter etc. The paper reports on a study conducted among a sample of 150 persons aged 60 years and above. The sample was drawn from an urban area (Maseru) and among the rural residents of Berea and Roma (30-40 km from Maseru). A questionnaire was administered by university students and took about one hour to administer. The main areas studied were the reported cash income and its sources, source of income in an emergency and the respondents' satisfaction with levels of the same. The study showed that slightly less than three-quarters of the rural elderly and slightly more than half of the urban elderly had incomes less than the minimum wage specified then. Urban incomes were higher. Two-fifths of respondents were unemployed, with an equal number mostly employed in manual and low paying jobs. A number largely depended on remittances or charity. There were no significant differences in satisfaction with incomes between the rural and urban elderly in spite of the significant differences in the same. The policy implications of the findings are discussed. The African Anthropologist Vol.10(2) 2003: 154-179


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