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Nairobi elderly cut back on food as financial woes rise

Nearly eight in every 10 elderly persons in Nairobi have cut the quantity of food they eat since the outbreak of Covid-19
Nearly eight in every 10 elderly persons in Nairobi have cut the quantity of food they eat since the outbreak of Covid-19. FILE PHOTO | NMG 
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Nearly eight in every 10 elderly persons in Nairobi have cut the quantity of food they eat since the outbreak of Covid-19, a new survey shows, amid rise in cost of food items caused by supply chain disruptions.

Research by HelpAge International – a group focused on promoting the rights of elderly people worldwide – has shown that that 76 percent of those residing in the capital city consumed smaller food rations while another 52 percent reduced their quality of diet.

“This was higher for older people with disability both in terms of quantity (80 percent) and quality (55 percent) of food eaten,” the report shows.

Retired person’s top priorities include food (57 percent), livelihood (14 percent), and shelter (11 percent), the report shows.

“Elderly people ranked food as their number one priority based on the fact that Kenya has been facing a food insecurity due to deteriorating climatic conditions such as uneven rainfall distribution, prolonged drought in arid and semi-arid areas, flooding with destruction of farms and crops and desert locust invasion leading to scarcity of food and increased food prices,” the report shows.

The survey, which was held between July 7 and 10th on persons over 60-years, involved more than 170 respondents in 17 sub-counties of Nairobi.

Whereas 60 percent of old folks depend on remittances as their main source of incomes, 54 percent (above the age of 70) rely on pension and cash transfers while 23 percent on businesses.

However, dependence on businesses is higher among those in their 60's at 26 percent.

"This reliance on remittances is concerning considering the current global economic recession

"A general observation is that due to economic instability and many businesses struggling in the Covid-19 context, this affects older people who are reliant on a regular salary for their livelihoods," it adds.

According to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data, Kenyans in the diaspora sent back home Sh29.9 billion in July from Sh31.2 billion the previous month, representing a Sh1.2 billion drop.

The drop comes in the wake of the World Bank's projection in April that the global remittances will plunge by 20 percent this year due to Covid-19 economic effects.

Moreover, 16 percent of seniors living in informal settlements received income assistance under the Covid-19's emergency cash transfer programmes.

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