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Longer, analytical article.  Social Welfare and Ageing in Tanzania

Summary & Comment: On July 29, 2009, the moderator of TAKNET (Tanzania Knoweldge Network), Festo E. Maro, sent a new topic to TAKNET members, about the issue of social welfare and ageing. Over the next few months, Taknet members responded with their views on the issue of social welfare and ageing in Tanzania. Two views emerged in the discussion – that the government has the responsibility to develop policies related to the aged population and that the traditional cultural system contains many answers to these social problems. Most advocated a balance of government help and cultural tradition (or “society at large”) while acknowledging that neither the government nor society at large is successfully taking care of the elderly population at present. Many members agree that one of the reasons for this is the lack of political and popular will. Few advocated for no government involvement, recognizing that some government support is necessary. The discussion appears below. JK The topic: Dear Taknet members, we would like to introduce to you an important policy debate on social welfare and ageing yet it’s very silent in policy discussions. In principle this topic is about shaping your future by sharing ideas on the current issues affecting old age population at the moment. The introductory note narrates the context for you to be familiar with national ageing policy, strategy, targets and circumstances which the current old age populations are facing. All these facets are given in brief to stimulate your thinking on the achievement, challenges and failure of national ageing policy. We expect your contribution will help to inform the policy, institutional set up and other social benefits schemes which have been set up for the welfare of ageing population. Kaitlin Bardswich editor Africafiles.

Author: Festo E. Maro, moderator Date Written: 11 December 2009
Primary Category: Eastern Region Document Origin: Tanzanian Knowledge Network, TAKNET
Secondary Category: Health and AIDS Source URL: http://www.taknet.or.tz
Key Words: Tanzania

African Charter Article #18: The State will protect the family as the natural unit and basis of society; the rights of women, children, the aged, and the disabled will be protected. (Click for full text...)

Printable Version
Social welfare and ageing in Tanzania


Introductory Note

Ageing in humans refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. The national ageing policy defines ageing as a biological process which has its own dynamic, largely beyond human control. The age of 60 years and above, is considered to be the beginning of old age and roughly equivalent to retirement ages in Tanzania. UN Population Division projected that in the next 45 years, the number of persons in the world aged 60 years or older is expected to increase from 672 million people in 2005 to nearly 1.9 billion by 2050. Today 60 per cent of older persons live in developing countries.  

In Tanzania the population of aged 60 and above is only 4.6% but according to integrated labor survey (2002), 66% of the population aged 65 years and above are economically active while 7% are unemployed. This means in the next 20 years to come there will be more unemployed senior citizen leaving under social security benefits and others 7% have to rely on their own. Old aged people are assets to the nation as such that some societies develop a comprehensive welfare programs to its old generation. In Tanzania old population are negatively conceived and mistreated.

In Lake Regions for example old people are faced with fears of being killed over witchcrafts allegations while former East African Community employees have to riot to claim their social security benefits.  On the other hand the government through MKUKUTA has a target by 2010 among others reaching 40% and 100% of eligible older people with effective social protection measures and free medical care and attended by specialized medical personnel respectively.

Despite the policy rhetoric, reality as in the views of the people report (2007) indicates that 65% of old people (of which women are more than men) had health problems requiring regular attention, mostly concerning their mobility/walking. Access to health services is a nightmare since those who were seeking treatment, 35% paid themselves, 27% were paid for by family, 15% received free treatment, and 14% did not undergo treatment. Nearly half of the over 60s, 48% declared that they did not know that they are entitled to free treatment in government facilities 42% were men and 58% women.

In addition, approximately one fifth, 18%, of elderly respondents said that they had been refused treatment in government facility because they could not afford to pay for services, and 13% indicated that they had been refused free treatment due to lack of proof of their age.” These findings have profound questions on social economic policy setup to the disadvantageous groups’ welfare particularly aged people. There is a need to reverse the trend in the policy and institutional set up in order to handle old people with dignity and compassion.  

We would like therefore to have your contribution with special emphasis on the questions bellow which will lead to influence the welfare policy for caring ageing population in the country.  

  • What institutional arrangement should be done to improve the welfare of the current old people and next generation? 

  • What are the basic social services old people should pay? 

  • How should the government eliminate discrimination in, financial, psychological and physical abuse and other crimes against older persons, including intergenerational violence? 

  • How should we promote intergenerational solidarity with the goal of maintaining and improving social cohesion across age groups?

Adam Mayingu responded a few days later, stating:  

I am made to understand that the ministry responsible for social security conducted a survey on the informal sector; mainly to find ways of incorporating them to our social security system. As we are all aware; the coverage of social security currently is limited to formal sector, and the existing policy is advocating for an extension of these services to the informal sector. The current social security regulatory act; has opened up the "market" where by the private sector can now come in; and theoretically this means we can expect competitive services to members in this sector.

Health is costly and the biggest challenge to the senior citizens much as there are known/unknown arrangement that they are entitled to "free" medical services to Govt health outlets. In these outlets; many if not everything is out of stockh, which means the "free" service to the elderly remains in "campaigns". I guess the NHIF pilot? for the elderly/retired members to continue getting services can be a good point The intergenerational solidarity; to me can only be a talking point once we have comprehensive social security services with a relatively high percentage of population beyond the current 10-15%? of the working people.

Maro then questioned how much was actually being done in the informal sector regarding this issue:

Thanks Mr. Adam Mayingu for the insight contribution about the biasness of the welfare policies and recent government efforts in adjusting the balance. However, the Government efforts to develop the informal sector social securities are not very well known compared to social securities in formal sectors. 

Due to the broad base of the informal sector activities there is need for tailor made programmes for the poor in a generalized insecurity environment such as Tanzania. On this respect am not very much convinced much has been done relative to its complex nature of the informal sector. I would appreciate if you could bring into the surface the progress made on the informal sector social security arrangement.

Deus Msipotwa Kibamba joined the discussion, arguing that there is little political will to develop an effective system for retirement: 

I think we can do more than what we are currently trying to do. Infact to be true to myself, I think the political will to prepare a serious system and framework for good retirement is not there at the moment. We have seen how former workers in factories and corporations, who were honest have been struggling to make ends meet. I remember speaking to a former RTC (for the sake of the younger generation, RTC means Regional Trading Corporation) when I visited Kidondo early this year and he revealed how it was being difficult to survive without any pension moneys. He has been trying to use his education in 'sort of modern' farming but the challenges overweight the successes. We have a lot of retirees today without ant any pension going into their hands. This is group one of the aged without any welfare entitlements !  

The second group of former workers are those who dilligently toiled to provide services including as Teachers, doctors, rail workers, nusres, engineers and politicians, but have ended up receiving an ending pension. According to one retiree in Karagwe (I visited Karagwe in February), his pension ended in 2007 after he had received about around Tshs. 2,000 per month for a number of years since his retirement. Asked to explain the conditions under which his pension payments came to a close, this Senior citizen did not know. This group of former employees have had very little pay, whose calculus was not even known to them and some of them could have their terminal pay terminated without notice or knowledge. This is the second group.  

The other group is well known. This is a group of workers who have demanded for their pay for many years without having to see anything come into their hands (since their bank accounts automatically got deleted for not having funds in them). We have witnessed the former EAC workers who are still meeting to date to strategize on how best to demand their rights. Some of them of course received some pay in the past, but, like the second group , the payment was was peanut and the calculation was not explained to the payees.

Still in the same group, you have people in the like of Mzee Milton Mfanye whom I held discussions with in Sinyanga when I visited in December 2008. He has worked for a private security company in Shinyanga for many years, but doubts his pension contributions were ever filed to the respective authorities in Dar es Salaam. He has been in a struggle ever since his employment was irregularly and illegally terminated his employer who has shown a lot of arrogance even as Mzee Mfanye attempted to file a case in the courts. At some point, Mr Mfanye was ready to receive from his former emplyer as little as 3 million but the rich man changed his mind and refused to pay anything to Mr Mfanye.

At the moment Mr Mfanye's issue is being dealt with by labour dispute arbitrators in Dar es Salaam but speaking to Mzee Mfanye by phone recently, it seemed the his health and livelihood condition had greatly deteriorated that he is not sure the payments will see him alive even if he had to win the case against his former employer. What are doing to these citizens who have at some point and for many many years served Tanganyika and Tanzania so dilligently? There are so many cases in the private and public sector alike of contributions that were never even filed.

What policy responses then? This is why I said initially that we are lacking the necessary political will to deal with these violations of workers rights and retirees pension payments. In my view, the politicians we have in power today are as arrogant. Instead of debating social security for all citizens of Tanzania in Parliamentary deleberations, we have seen and heard them discuss and deliberate on bills for the welfare of politicians. That their 7 million is not taxed except just a million, is shameful. That they are now raising for themselves from 7 million in total payments per month to over 12 million is as shameful and ridiculous.

That they have just passed the CDF (it has slightly changed in name) despite the flaws already learnt from Kenya and Malawi, made known to them by Civil Society is so dissapointing. I asked some of them how they would manage the fund without book keepers last year and they failed to answer. My second question over how they would build the roads without Engineers was too thorny. My last wonder over what then could be the role of the office of DED in development when MPs will also be administering and implementing projects went without a comment. Suddenly, the bill has been passed and I doubt President Kikwete has not assented it into law.

We are seing increased insecurity, both physical and social but what we are seing is not a strategy to address public insecurity to the entire nation but isolated plans to provide individual security to some leaders who, out of being surrounded by too insecure and poor masses feel not safe driving alone in the Landcruisers, Lexus and Hammer vehicles as well as living in their multi- billion estates. And you will be suprised, the short-of-staff police Force quickly deploys a whole group of officers to provide patrol to them. This type of security is not sustainable, let them be warned ! Sleep is good when your neighbours are also sleeping !  

So let us find a way to secure socially those at Tandale and Kimanzichana markets in towns and Udekwa and Kituntu in the rural areas. Without doing so, we will not be safe and secure however rich we may think we have become ! How to do that can be a matter of consultation with the wider citizenry and that is why TAKNET and other fora exist.

Omari Mwinyi Khamis then described another groups of elders in Tanzania and made four suggestions for improving the welfare system:  

I do agree with Mr.Maro that we have various groups of our elders in Tanzania. I do hereby add another group of elders who are living in villages and being taken care of their children and relatives. This is a big group and most of them have worked in their fields and they don’t have pension money at all. The present social security system has actually failed to address the various problems facing our elders. In order to improve the welfare of the present old generation and the future generation the following could be suggested.

  1. Every Tanzanian should receive pension as from 60 years of age. This pension should be divided into the following catagories :
    A) General pension money to all Tanzanians.
    B) Additional pension money to be given to those who have worked in
        government ministries, parastatals and companies. This could be similar to
        the present pension system but with some modification.
    C) Every worker should have a sort of “pension insurance”. This will be a part
        of his salary, almost 5% that will be compulsory saved in a sort of
        insurance company.
    D) At the age from 60 years the pension should be paid to a Tanzanian
        citizen throughout his/her life time (as long as he/she lives).
  2. The government has to build institutions such as Old People Homes. Such homes could have heir own medical doctors and nurses to take care of our elders. Those elders who cannot be taken care of their childern or relatives could turn to such homes. All EU countries have such homes. The government through tax payment can finance such homes.
  3. The general pension money has to be calculated according to the current minimum living standard so that those who are living outside “Old People Homes” can afford living alone.
  4. Tanzanian workers have to be encourage to have “private pension “. They can save money in the bank for their future. Our banks could introduce such services in the country.
 The Qur''an says the we should take care of our parents at their old age.

Maro addressed some of the issues and questions that Kibamba’s statement had raised:

What is the policy then? This was the question asked by Kibamba. His contribution is an eye opener for us to rethink again on social security policies and schemes in Tanzania. If one think critically on the suffering of old people or retirees you could think of renaming social security in the context of Tanzania. At one point I thought it’s a “Social Impoverishment Mechanisms”. 

I don’t mean to scorn the social system but it’s what we see how the clients of social security schemes are mistreated! Why is it always the weak, the poor, the marginalized, or those who lives in rural areas often subjected to undesirable circumstances in social security systems? These are issues which need to be debated at higher organs of policy and law enforcement like parliament.  

To the contrary, as Deus explained Community Development Fund (CDF) and other remunerations to parliamentarians are taking the lead. I don’t mean it’s a bad initiative but the role of parliamentarian is overlapping if it will be implemented. Other organs will be redundant then. There is need for feasibility study by an independent group to see how should it operate and how does it differ from other existing structures, how will it increase the national budget, how will it be financed, how will it be monitored and evaluated and how will it contribute to economic development of the community and entire country as whole. 

These parameters need to be realistic and achievable. The government should invest in investments which will likely to have high population dense in terms of effects. Social welfare protection shouldn’t be ignored in implementing such projects and high consideration should be given to old age populations. To what extent does CDF takes considerations of old population?  

Irene Alenga disagreed with Khamis about homes for the aged:  

Thank you Dr Khamis for your insightful contribution. while I agree with you on the suggestions I advise that we don't give a blind eye to the systems that exist in our traditional set up. The African Cultural setting has a roles set up in such a way that every stage of our lives has functions and benefits. While Old peoples homes work well in the western Society, it may be close to impossible to implement the system in a setting where the elderly in society are considered as the vessels of knowledge and wisdom, traditions and values, executors of rites, owners and rightful guardians of ancestral land.. we ourselves send our children to see their grandparents during school holidays so that they can be toughened up or learn about their family traditions since we are too busy earning money to have that time to spend with them.  

From an African set up, at least socially sending the old/elderly to homes is equivalent to killing them... Slow psychological torture to actual physical death. If we send them off to institutions while the institution of the family already has a system of absorbing them and specific roles which they are to undertake then we are cutting them off from the society  which is very much around us. I don't have the correct statistics but nearly 70% of Tanzanians live in the rural areas others have migrated to the urban areas due to search for greener pastures. as you rightfully put it in your introduction a large chunk of the 70 percent fall into the category you proposed. Can the system afford to make homes for them?  

The idea of giving compulsory pension to anyone over 60 years old is good, but where shall we pool the money from? How are we going to reach the Elderly/ old in the rural areas? do we need an institution to lobby for their rights given that with age comes some physical challenge?  

Maro, in contrast to Alenga, supported Khamis’s approach:  

Applause for Dr. Khamis approach, “think globally act locally”. His points are clear and right at the center of the problem. Such points should have been debated in our parliament, but in general the policy discussions are quite and avoid facing the reality. The problem of population growth in our country is a reality. This is because we more or less experiencing demographic transition (decreased mortality and increased fertility rates). Development economists warn that this problem of population growth has negative effects to population growth. If the policies will not be directed to have quality population, then we will the problem of decreased output per worker. High dependency ratios will be burden to few working class. This will have adverse short run effects on growth.  

Dr. Khamis and Deus ideas make me to think that our country is facing “resource dilution and resource diversion effect” as well as “myopic implementation policy environment”. If we are to get where Dr. Khamis suggested and to avoid what dues explained then the government has to avoid resource diversion and resource dilution. 

The suggestions are achievable if all leakage of public funds are controlled and transparent management of natural resources. Then we have clear institutions for implementing long term policies and programme in well coordinated manner for the improvement of social wellbeing of Tanzanians. How should the government eliminate discrimination in, financial, psychological and physical abuse and other crimes against older persons, including intergenerational violence? Is it achievable if resource dilution and resource diversion will be controlled?  

Khamis then responded with an example from Scandinavia and called on the Tanzanian government to take this social policy issue seriously:  

The tax we pay in Scandinavia (Sweden,Denmark and Norway) covers medical care, school fees(for the grond education) and pension. This means the Tanzania goverment can afford to conduct such a tax system. If every citizen had identity number it won’t be a problem to pay pension to our elders living villages. There banks in every region or big towns all over Tanzania.

Thanks Mr. Maro. Most of our MP’s had not a chance of living and work in Europe, otherwise they would have strong points to present in our Parliament regarding the social security. Yes we have our so called African Social Security where we have to depend to our children and grandchildren to help us in our old age. But we are giving them a burden and sometimes they can’t economically afford. Its time for our Parliament to take this social problem seriously.  

Kurt Madoerin then gave advice based on the experience of the NGO Nshamba/Kagera:  

Kwa Wazee is an NGO based in Nshamba/Kagera. We would like to share our (practical) experiences in social protection for elders with the interested audience Many grandparents – mostly grandmothers – are caring for grandchildren who have lost the parents. Many grandparents have also lost their African support network mainly due to HIV/AIDS. These groups form the target audience for the program. The targeting policy (available as document) gives the first priority to poor elder-headed households wich care for grandchildren.

Second priority is given to grandparents living alone and without any support from the family. The program has been evaluated – using control groups. The impact of even small amounts is evident.

Kibamba strongly agreed with Madoerin’s point:  

I have read Kurt's email with great interest and would like to thank the writer for the experiential remarks. I totally agree with what has been reported. This is why government policy towards the social wellbeing of both the aged and children is of such importannce. I visited Makete sometime back and this was the situation. Infact, Kagera may be better in my analysis since the support system from within the communities and from remittances arriving from the many 'Washomire' in Dar and abroad kind of relieve these old and children a bit. I talked to some literate/middle class men and women in Bukoba as I got my 'beer and Senene' at the lake side in February this year and it was being confirmed to this effect. Makete is just a disaster. This is not to suggest any less attention to some region over the other, but the opposite. There should be a nation-wide policy to mitigate such difficulties. What is the experience of others? Let us discuss them if we have to find solutions, at all !  

Khamis agreed with Madoerin that the government does not help grandparents who care for their grandchildren whose parents have died from HIV/ADS:  

Thanks Kurt for your information. This problem of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS is well known all over Tanzania. The government does not help such eldres at all. This problem surfaced many years ago in Tanga in such a way that it was horrible to hear stories concerning those elders who helped their dear grandchildren. 

In short, the social structure in Tanzania is very poor indeed one wonders if there is actually a ministry in Tanzania that work on social problems! We have to fight poverty by helping the elders, the poor and the ophans.

Maro summed up aspects of the discussion and again raised the question of grandparents caring for their grandchildren:

Actually I have to say the discussion is very delightful and rich of ideas. Discussants of the topic have experience and solid grip of basic concern to our social policy and ageing population in particular. The point Kurts made me to refer to the traditional family systems and social security arrangements. What we observed now is role reversal in care giving because of lacking a secured social systems reinforced from street, ward, village, district and national level. 

Grandparents should be taken care by youth and not otherwise. This signal instability of the particular society, since for how long will the old live?

Or what income grandparents earn to sustain the demands of raising a child properly? Few rich can manage but majority poor its day dream. We need to revisit our policies which shape our institutions. I like the question from one of contributors which ask about the role of ministry of social welfare then if all these problems persist.
 How should the ministry ensure the old generations are not over burden with living cost and caring for the young ones?  

R.M. Besha joined the conversation, placing more of the blame on the family and society at large:  

I must say it has been one very exciting journey reading the above posted contributions. as much as i would like to agree with you all on the question of policies for addressing the issue at hand, i beg to differ...our country is run using many different development, health, cultural policies to mention a few..the ones that are prioritized or fully implemented are ones that are important to the PEOPLE. by "people", I do not mean you, him, her and me, I mean them... I hope you all get my point...policies may be put forward and may be published and crammed by each one of us, but unless they are important to "them", they will never be implemented...

I do not mean to put you in despair, I am only being factual.

Even though the government has the responsibility and duty of providing and caring for the elders, we also have the same obligation as fellow human beings and citizens just as the government has.. I am talking from a humanitarian point of view. if we can sit down in "vikaos" and raise millions that can be spent in hours for drinks, flowers, cake and food, why should we not do the same for the elders as it is now becoming a problem? I know a few friends here in dar es salaam who have their own children but decided to adopt another child out of generosity and good will....can we not do the same with the elders?

We are so selfless, to an extent that we pretend not to see the agony the elders are facing..for the ones who have taken a bus or a train, trolley, tram etc in europe or the u.s.a. there is a special section for the elders right after the door... this is how much the western world cares….do we dare to even give up our seats when such people get on the bus here in tz??? and we dare command our government to do what we openly cannot do….

I am trying to say that change begins with us...we have continually been blaming the government and leaving everything to them so much that they decide to put them aside and deal with what benefits only them....

I beleive in optimism but leaving this to policy formulation alone is not enough...

on the question of intergenerational violence, it is only to do with factors such as inadequacy and inefficiency of existing police stations in areas affected, justice not being served, ignorance and negligence of the old people (by ourselves as pointed out by Irene if I am not mistaken)....this thus takes us to the issue of homes for the elderly, if this age group is not even sure of what to eat at the end of the day or throughout the day, and the kind of lives they live are full of fear of brutal murder for mistaken accusations, i would rather these people were securely sheltered in homes (in urban areas) where they can have all that we have-recreational facilities, health services, libraries, social clubs u name it and live a peaceful life....

I and many more Tanzanians, am sure will rather the taxes they pay cover for such services for our beloved....they are people who brought us, our parents and u into this world and some served this nation faithfully....in fact, some day we too will need to enjoy what we planted when we grow old…

the question of services they can or cannot pay for is more upon ourselves(the service providers),what happens when they are not to pay the bus fare and a whole bunch gets on a daladala (as is the case for soldiers here in tz.???)but if a law is passed and there is some kind of control such as i.d. for those covered, certain services can be free for them, or the price  can be slightly lower...

In the western world, there is social security fund which covers the unemployed and the aged and sometimes newly born babies and their mothers(correct if I am wrong)-it is a whole new topic all together but in a way it covers  the social welfare for the aged.... I do not know how feasible it is for us but i am certain it is very necessary....

that's all that popped into my head today..

Khamis took some issue with this and stressed that the government still has some responsibility:  

I understand that some think that we can do a sort of  ”HARAMBEE” campaing for our elders and don’t leave the whole matter to the government. This is not the matter of the government only since the religious organisations like churhes in Tanzanzia and BAKWATA are supposed to help in solving this problem. BAKWATA for example is receiving a lot of money from the Muslim world in order not to build building for prayers but also to help the eldres, the poor and the ophans. Yes private people for example can start contributing by bulding such Elders’ Homes in every region as we are helping building schools.

But at the end the government hand has to be there in helping such contributers. For example we have in our counrty what we we call “Small miners”. These are private Tanzania miners who are now receiving help from the government through STAMICO. Similar thing can be created with regard to our elders and ask for help from the ministry concerned.

John Ernest Kitoka then took a more structural approach:  

The problems of the elderly are far beyond the current forms of both traditional and conventional social security schemes in Tanzania. They should widely be understood within the broader spectrum of various categories of fluctuations, shocks and crisis. The vulnerabilities that befall the poor can also be a result of structural and endemic entitlement deficits that constitute shortfalls in the crucial dimensions of well-being, such as nutrition, health and housing that persist and are regularly reproduced in the economy.  

Such deficits have a tendency to reproduce themselves because the poor remain poor year after year. The elderly poverty of Tanzania is, for that matter is embedded in the economic and social structures and institutions both traditional and modern. An attempt to ameliorate the elderly poverty and socially protect the elderly must constitute broad based policy frameworks. Accordingly, there are three elements in which such frameworks can be constructed:  

The multiple dimension of social security, which covers a full spectrum of phenomena or domains over which protection is sought. These could include food, nutritional security,health, aspects of employment or work related insecurity, old age cover, children education, access to legal aid and so on.  

The second element pertains to different different social dimensional contingencies in the population. This includes groups such as children, women, the aged, migrants/refugees, the unemployed and so on. Special interest groups can also be identified; eg, domestic workes, special occupational groups such as fishermen, miners, and small scale farmers. Different groups could also be identified by age and gender.  

The third element is what we call alternative provisioning systems for addressing specific dimensions of social protection. State based provision, market based systems, employer/enterprise linked systems, occupational welfare funds, trade unions or member-based organizations, other solidarity or community based institutions, informal or non-contractual family-household-lineage-kinship-mechanisms, intra house hold and intergenerational transfer mechanisms, NGO based interventions, national universal coverage systems insurance schemes and so on.  

These three elements create a kind of matrix that can help investigate modes and forms of cover enjoyed by specific sections of population in a way that addresses particular insecurities and deficits. Create a social security systems that that will allow the design and implementation of financial accessing mechanisms for the poor. That system must underscore the principle of socio-economic security for all as a right, not driven and inspired by politically inspired programmes.  

William Joel Mkubwa Mdundo expressed his agreement with Khamis:  

I entirely agree with Dr. Khamis's contribution that the Issue of Social Welfare for the Ageing in Tanzania should not be left to the Central Government alone, but rather, should be a responsibility of all social players, including Religious Organisations, CBOs, NGOs, Local Governments and above all, all citizens- corporate and unincorporated, young and old. But above all, we need a well articulated Policy supported by a well defined Legal Framework that would define the different Schemes of supporting the Elderly, whether living with their immediate relatives or are cared for in special homes for the Old. It would also provide Tax breaks for those wishing to save for their retirement, those contributing to social schemes for the elderly or those who will invest in the business of constructing and running of homes for the old.  

We also need to put in place Laws which will regulate the operations of the different schemes and homes for the elderly and which will also provide for stiff penalties for those who will attempt to take undue advantage in the business of caring for the old. Lest we forget! All of us have the potential to become frail and helpless with age and we will need the support of the Society as a whole before we peacefully die.We need to be sure that we will be cared for in time of need.  

Mombo Ernet Kamwaya placed must of the responsibility with the government if the system was not fixed quickly:

I am very much impressed by Dr Khamis's contribution. Most of us admire the way the Swedish people have managed keep things right with the Social Security Funds System. Indeed, the Tanzanian Govt at the end will have to be blamed if things are not put straight right now. We have copied a lot of good things from Europe and why not copy the Social Security System from our old Swedish friends? Dr Khamis, thanks; many of us understand your point. Khamis then stressed how Tanzania could learn from Scandinavia:

Thanks Mr.Kamwaya. Yes our government can copy the Social Security System from Scandinavian countries (Sweden,Denmark and Norway). These countries have been helping Tanzania since our independence and they will be willing to show Tanzania how to start such a system. It’s not too late to slowly create such a Social Security System combined with our African tradition so that our elders will still have contact with their children and grandchildren. Let us all Tanzanians, those who are living inside the country and those living abroad, join hands in this subject. We must create a good future for the next generation and in this way we can eradicate povery in Tanzania.

Kamwaya agreed that Tanzania could learn a lot from Sweden:

Mr Festo Maro put the ball 'rolling" on social security system and asked the rest of us brainstorm on

  • What institutional arrangement should be done to improve the welfare of the current old people and next generation? 

  • What are the basic social services old people should pay?

  • How should the government eliminate discrimination in financial, psychological and physical abuse and other crimes against older persons, including intergenerational violence? 

  • How should we promote intergenerational solidarity with the goal of maintaining and improving social cohesion across age groups?

I think the first three questions could be answered by coping from the well developed Swedish system. I say so because if we try to deviate we will do things wrongly just as we did politically and administratively soon after independence, and ended up "equally dogmatically" in shambles. The last question would be the introduction of harsh penalties to criminals. 

Festo E. Maro wrote another post, urging the discussion to continue:  

I accept that the forum has been very quite both from contributors and moderators. However, the essence of this forum is for the contributors to discuss among themselves and raising issues while the moderator keeps the discussion in check. 
As I was reading the contributor's point’s one question came in mind but before I proceed I have to acknowledge contributions from Dr. Khamis, Mr. Besha, Omary, Deus and others for raising up good points.
The question I had is on the inclusion of old women in the planning processes starting at the grass-root level. I believe our country is a member for the implementation of the Madrid International plan of action which stipulated the need to include old age people in the planning processes. I will also like to hear from Dr. Khamis regarding this matter from Scandinavian perspectives. Though I don’t know whether they rectified the plan of action or not! Please late open our discussion again and make it live once more!! 

Jason Nkyabonaki is the latest person to date to respond:  

The topic is very interesting and touching. Basic social services from public institutions are not adequate when it comes to protection of the aged. Take an example of the rural areas where some one has to go as far as 80 or plus kilometers to meet a district hospital. This consume more time, energy and travelling cost making it more expensive than going to the near by private dispensary. And some e.g. in Kagera opt to herbs like muarobaini or famous malaria cure tree"Mubilizi".  

It should be known that most old people are not covered by pension schemes. There is need to take census to identify how many senior citizens are covered and those who are not covered by pension schemes. Later the government has to enforce pension schemes to pay retirees their benefits on time. Those who are not covered, safety nets should be designed targeting the poor and marginalized senior citizens. Otherwise the ongoing tendency of denying and despising senior citizen (pensioner and non-pensioner) is against human rights. Delays of pension benefits and denying aged people basic social services from public institution are an indication of corruption to the detrimental of aged community in the country.  

Overall, it seems that members of Tanzania’s academic community are unimpressed with the way the government is handling issues surrounding the aged population. Equally, while advocating for a dual government-traditional society approach, many members concede that traditional society is not supporting its elderly population as it should. No single person or institution can develop a solution to the current deficits in the social welfare system for the aged in Tanzania. Forums like Taknet are needed to brainstorm solutions so that many different actors, both in the government and civilian sectors, can work together to sufficiently, and without discrimination, aid the ageing population.  

*Visit the Taknet website to see the entire discussion and any new posts.

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