Rwanda parliament has approved ratification of an Africa Union protocol that will pave way for a policy and laws to take care of elderly persons, pensioners and their families through direct government and community support.
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of older persons in Africa was adopted at the twenty 26th Session of the Africa Union Assembly held in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia on 31 January 2016.
Parliament discussed and approved the basis of this protocol in June, sending the draft law to a parliament committee on Unity, Human rights and fight against Genocide for further discussion on articles embedded therein.
While presenting the outcomes, the Committee Chairperson MP Elisabeth Mukamana said the protocol will be a starting point for the long awaited policy and laws on elderly and pensioners in Rwanda.
“We needed this protocol in order to have a policy and laws in place. The policy is currently under preparation at ministry level and this will be followed by specific laws,” Mukamana said.
She noted that the draft policy under finalization will improve already existing government efforts to support pensioners, however it will come with improvement of the welfare.
“For example on financial support, this new policy will not only financially support the pensioners but even their family that takes care of them, which is different from what we have been doing,” Mukamana said.
Since 2018, Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) reviewed pension payouts upwards, with the least paid currently earning Rwf13000 from Rwf5700 before, costing the pension body between Rwf5 billion and Rwf6billion annually.
In the earlier presentation of the protocol, MP John Ruku Rwabyoma had asked government to consider involving community especially the youths to volunteer in taking care of the elderly.
“We need to start teaching youths a culture of supporting the elderly. In some countries, old people are sent to care homes, but since we cannot afford this, we need to find solutions in our culture of caring for elders,” Rwabyoma said.
In response to this suggestion MP Mukamana stated that the other benefit of the upcoming policy is that the community will now be legally held accountable in taking care of the pensioners and elderly in their respective communities.
“Each one of us in society will have a role to play in supporting the elderly. They (elderly) will also get sporting and fitness activities and life skills training for the elderly as proposed in the new policy,” Mukamana said.
MP Pierre Claver Rwaka was not convinced about the timeline of the policy. He asked why it has taken long to have a pension law and policy in place since 2008 when parliament started pushing for it to support the elderly and retired.
The committee chairperson responded that the ministry of local government has promised to finalize the policy soon, and they were lagging behind because of the unratified treaty to guide the country in policy and laws.
Currently, elderly home care projects are run under the funding of religious groups and non-profitable organisations and foundations.