South Africa’s pledge for older persons

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Africa
North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo signing up to the pledge

North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo signing up to the pledge

RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, 14 October 2014 – Senior government figures and several mayors from across South Africa have marked International Day for Disaster Reduction by signing a unique national pledge to implement minimum standards to both engage older persons in disaster risk reduction and to meet their needs.

Among those who took the pledge were the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, Andries Nel, and the Premier of North-West Province, Supra Mahumapelo, Deputy Water & Sanitation Minister, Pamela Tshwete, MEC for Local Government and Human Settlements, Collen Maine, House of traditional leaders representative, Mr Nawa and MMC Councillor, Lucky Kgaladi.

The pledge is inspired by Charter14 for Older Persons in Disaster Risk Reduction promoted by HelpAge International and UNISDR. It reads:

“The democratically elected leadership of the government of South Africa pledges to provide a better life for all the older persons of this country. The government of South Africa commits to planning for comfortable aging in the era of climate change and recurring disasters.

“In pursuit of disaster risk reduction in the country, government with acknowledge and embrace the knowledge and wisdom of our older persons by getting them involved in disaster risk reduction initiatives. It will also address the needs and vulnerabilities of older persons and offer appropriate support. Milestones to achieve this commitment have been set and aligned with the key priorities of this country. To achieve this, a set of minimum standards has been drafted and will be implemented within specified timeframes.”
South Africa marked International Day with a two day event attended by the CEO of HelpAge International, Toby Porter, and the Head of UNISDR’s Regional Office for Africa, Sharon Rusu. members of the local, district, provincial and national governmental structures added their signatures to the pledge.

Ms. Rusu reminded the audience that the 2014 International Day with the theme of Resilience is for Life “ is the culmination of a four-year ‘Step-Up’ campaign that highlights how much the world has to gain by including members of our community who are so often side-lined during disasters.

“Previous years have focused on children and young people, women and girls, and persons living with disability. Along with older people all have unique and valuable perspectives that can help build safer communities for all.”

The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Andries Nel focused his speech on the changes happening in local governments in South Africa, including a push towards universal basic services and good governance. With this in place, he says, local governmental structures including municipalities will be able to better manage disasters.

North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, said the events of the past two days are very important because of the opportunity provided to local governments of the North West to recognize the role that senior citizens can play in making sure “we entrench and strengthen democracy”.

He added: “They must live the democracy, but they won’t be living and enjoying it if we don’t make sure that the environments in which they live – the villages, towns and townships – are safer for them. It is very important that they will have a say, will be able to work with government, and that we are opening that channel with us directly.”

In attendance at the event was 79-year old Johanna Letlape whose home was severely damaged by recent floods in the North West province. Speaking through a translator, Letlape explained that her biggest wish now was for a new home as the water damage had left her family exposed to the elements and unwanted visitors, like snakes.

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