The Global Ageing Network is excited to partner with the Malawi Network of Older Persons (MANEPO). This partnership unites 2 organizations with a mutual purpose to improve best practices in aged care so that older people everywhere can live healthier, stronger, more independent lives. It will provide an opportunity for members to network together and to enable members to access new insights and knowledge from one another.
Under the direction of Andrew Kavala, the Country Director for MANEPO, the newly developed partnership with the Global Ageing Network will provide a pathway for us to tap the technical knowledge on ageing from various experts and specialists on ageing within the Global Ageing Network. Further to this, we would ensure we factor in a component on joint research studies on ageing as one of the challenges we face in Africa is lack of substantive evidence and data to support our advocacy on various issues affecting older persons.
At the Global Ageing Network’s 2017 conference in Montreux, Switzerland, Mr. Kavala stated that “the knowledge, exposure, and networking gained during the conference cannot be underestimated!”
MANEPO is an umbrella body coordinating over 40 civil society organizations, whose aim is to help older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty so that they can lead dignified, secure, active, and healthy lives in Malawi. MANEPO was formed in 2013 to strengthen the capacity of the sector to speak with one voice on the rights of older people as well as coordinate activities and currently include 28 member organizations.
MANEPO is coordinated by Kalibu Ministries and it is well recognized in the country as an authority on older people. They have an ongoing dialogue with government and is regularly invited for consultation on older people policy and programmes.
MANEPO’s work focuses on 4 thematic areas of income security, health and care, abuse and discrimination, and voice. The elders in Malawi are among the poorest with no reliable social security system. In an interview with The Nation, Mr. Kavala stated that “universal social pension is the only effective instrument for poverty reduction and broader social-economic development for the elderly”.
MANEPO collaborated with HelpAge International to carry out a universal pension feasibility study in October 2015. Together they worked with Malawi’s Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare to bring awareness to the issue among the public and to broker space for possible partnerships with organizations such as UNDESA and the Africa Development Bank. The brief was published by the International Labour Organization in 2017.
Mr. Kavala has been an advocate for older persons’ rights since he graduated from the University of Malawi. Although tempted to work for larger institutions such as World Vision, Action, and UN Agencies where members of staff are highly remunerated, he chose to lobby for the protection and promotion of older person’s rights in Malawi and Southern Africa. He works to ensure that older people, in general, do not find themselves in stereotyped scenarios, such as discrimination and segregation, on account of their age, poor national socio-economic development, internal civic strife, and working-class conditions. He considers himself a champion of ageing on Malawi and believes that through partnerships and networking, older people will engage in a successful and healthy life.
He continuously reminds Malawians “that ageing is not a curse; rather, it is the triumph of development”.
Mr. Kavala also serves one of the Founding Directors for Southern Africa Regional Age Network (SARAN). SARAN is currently active in eight (8) countries, namely: Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, and Swaziland.