Liberia: Rep. Koon Proposes Welfare for Older People

26 November 2018

In the wake of the unprecedented increase of street begging especially among older people and disadvantage Liberians, Montserrado County District #11 Rep. Richard Nagbe Koon has proposed a bill seeking to cater for the old folks in the country.

The bill title an Act seeking the Establishment of the National Old folks Commission of 2018 according to Rep. Koon is intended to formulate appropriate programs and policies to improve the wellbeing of the old folks in line with government's pro-poor agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) which was launched recently by President George Weah.

"This instrument is being introduced from data collected, which is intended to create a livelihood in the environment for old folks so that they can contribute to national society and avoid been a liability to society as we all share ideas of development respectively making them work for their own survival and growth, incompliance with the National Government Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development goals SDGs 2030 agenda," he said in his communication.

Citing statistics from Liberia's 2008 Census, Rep. Koon said old folks constitute about 170,971 which is about 48% of the total population stressing that of that figure, about 35% of that number are in urban areas while the remaining percent is in rural areas.

Rep. Koon further argued that it is no secret that the living condition of old folks in the country is worst, taking into consideration the increase number of old folks begging on the daily basis for survival.

"Older women and men often remain invisible, a situation even more acute for those living in rural areas, who desperately deserve freedom from violence, access to justice and to realize their human rights. The parallel event which was organized by the National Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NNPEA) initiate discussions about actual challenges and opportunities in achieving equality for all these hidden older women and men. Everyone is born with the same human rights, but ageist prejudices and stereotypes drive discrimination that undermines people's ability to enjoy these rights as they age in Liberia. Older people are disproportionately impacted during emergencies yet only one percent of humanitarian expenditure responds directly to older people's needs. Older people experience different types of violence and abuse, yet data is often only collected about old people up to the age of 60years and above," Rep. Koon indicated further in his communication.

Touching deep on his proposed bill, the Montserrado County lawmaker noted that the bill will further provide a comprehensive and systematic framework for the protection and promotion of all our human rights in older age for Liberia.

He said the intention of his communication is also intended to prohibit all forms of discrimination in older age in every aspect of life as well as articulate how each human rights should apply to every person irrespective of ages.

If accepted by Plenary, he informed his colleagues that budget line will be created in the national budget to support programs for the wellbeing of older people in the country.

Meanwhile, following the reading of Rep. Koon's communication, Rep. Matthew Zarzar of Sinoe District#3 filed in a motion, mandating the committees on Ways, Means Finance, Internal Affairs and Gender to report within one week.

There is a National Old Folks Association of Liberia, a non-profit, non-political, non-governmental accredited by the Liberian Government but sourcing resources to cater for the wellbeing of older people across the country remain a challenge.

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