IN HUMANITARIAN PRACTICE
The terms of the problem
GENCap workshop, February 2012
A matter of principle
Humanitarian operations, by and large, appear driven by “knee
jerk” reflexes - almost automatic responses based on standard
modalities, with little consideration for the actual needs.
When looked at from the perspective of older people, in
particular, humanitarian operations amount to a fundamental,
massive breach of the principle of impartiality.
One common misconception
«Old age is an issue for developed countries»
Second common misconception
«Old people are taken care of by their families»
• “Around the world, family support networks are in
• Skiped-generation families
• Active discrimination
Third common misconception
«Old people’s needs are basically the same as for
• Example 1: HEALTH – Communicable vs. non-
• Example 2: FOOD – The consumption dylemma; dry
• Example 3: SHELTER – Active exclusion
• Example 4: MOBILITY – US and Uganda
Fourth common misconception
«Old people are taken care of as part of the overall
• When assessment data are collected, they are generally
not disaggregated by sex and age. (SADD Tufts University study)
• In many cases, data about older people are simply not
collected. (WHO example; Horn of Africa nutritional survey)
• Older people are basically ignored in the planning and
execution of humanitarian operations.
HelpAge International and Handicap International
Humanitarian Financing Study 2012
This research study examined the UN Consolidated
Appeals Process (CAP) for 14 countries and four Flash
Appeals that took place in 2010 and 2011.2 All the
projects submitted to these appeals were examined – a
total of 6,003, the majority (5,330) under the CAP.
In 2010 and 2011, 47 projects (0.78 per cent) included
at least one activity targeting older people, and 18 of
these were funded (0.3 per cent). In about half of these
projects (21), the targeting of older people accounted
for less than 25 per cent of total project activities.
Influencing practice in the field
• 11 deployments of ageing advisors to Protection Clusters
through secondment from HAI to UNHCR
• Recent review:
“There is no doubting the popularity and usefulness of
the programme for those countries benefiting from a
secondment. Nor is there any doubt that
1. it is appropriate, cost-effective and replicable in its
implementation, and that
2. significant contributions have been made in each
country to best practice in the protection and assistance
of older people in emergencies”.
• “demand” for the service being more created from the centre
than generated from country programmes.
• There have been a number of management weaknesses which
have impinged on the effectiveness of some assignments.
• Being one-off arrangements, there have been inevitable
problems in measuring outputs or outcomes.
• Continuing technical support, either close or remote, is an
• Because they tend to be isolated country experiences, there
are questions as to the transferability of good and best practice
across and between country programmes
Age and Gender advisors?
• Strong rationale as described in the framework
• HelpAge ECHO proposal