The paper attempts to understand the perceptions and experiences of chronic poverty among poor older persons in Uganda, based on qualitative data generated from Iganga, Kampala, Mbarara and Mukono Districts. The results indicate that the elderly define old age not only in terms age but also employment status, physical appearance and physiological state of the person. They perceive old age to be characterised by ill-health, dependency, low incomes and depreciated asset bases, changed body features and physiological state. Their definition of chronic poverty embraces inter-generational and durational dimensions of chronic poverty. They singled out the widowed, disabled, women and those living alone as the ones most prone to chronic poverty. The findings indicate that the poor elderly consider the following factors as the major causes of chronic poverty; unemployment, chronic illhealth, lack of skills, HIV/AIDS, lack of social security systems, low land productivity, political instability, low agricultural returns and functional inability due to old age. Efforts to help the elderly get out the chronic poverty trap need to create avenues for employment among the elderly persons; mobilise poor elderly into organised community groups through which they can be targeted for support including skills developoment; provide free and specialised geriatric services; support the changing role of older persons in relation to orphan care; increase capacity of families to provide care and support to older persons through public awareness raising campaigns; and devise innovative approaches of embracing all categories in the national social welfare system order to avoid old age destitution and poverty.
Chronic poverty among the elderly in Uganda: perceptions, experiences and policy issues, presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, iii + 38 pp.