Gatekeepers pose for a photo during a sensitization workshop in Tabaka – Kisii County (Photo courtesy of Ndizi TV)

A recent study on prevalence of elder abuse revealed that Kisii County is ranked second in prevalence of elder abuse in Kenya. Kilifi and Kirinyaga Counties respectively occupy the first and third positions on the county ranking by prevalence of elder abuse in Kenya. In October 2021, Kisii County struck global headlines when four older women from Kitutu Chache North [Marani] Subcounty were lynched in broad daylight on allegations of practicing witchcraft. The homes of the victims were torched, their property seized and their kin excommunicated from the community after being threatened with dire consequences.

This incident that brought to light the magnitude of human violations caused uproar and wide public condemnation. Civil society organizations and human rights defenders (HRDs) led by Older Persons’ Organizations (OPOs) held a press a press conference calling for immediate and expeditious action against perpetrators of the heinous and barbaric acts of human violations. Civil society action though in good faith and serving to address the immediate legal requirements, did not put in place mechanisms to address underlying causes of violations of older persons’ rights sustainably.

Noting the above gap in comprehensively addressing these human rights issues, the Ethel Foundation for the Aged (EFA), with funding support from Misean Cara and in collaboration with a Community Based Organization – TAWUWU – is mobilizing and sensitizing gatekeepers and opinion leaders in the community on the rights and wellbeing of older persons. 

In June 2024 the Foundation in conjunction with TAWUWU, hosteda workshop aimed at exploring and addressing the challenges faced by older persons in the Kisii. The workshop convened attracted the participation of range of stakeholders, including national government officials, community leaders, and church leaders all united in their resolve to improving the lives of older persons in the community.

The event shed light on the most prevalent issues such as accusations of witchcraft, poor access to healthcare, social isolation, financial insecurity, and discrimination. Personal testimonies shared during the workshop provided strong insights into the daily struggles faced by the older persons in Kisii County.

The facilitated workshop also explored and recommended remedial measures. Participants recommended the need for education and sensitization programs to dispel myths and misconceptions, challenge stereotypes and promote understanding about ageing and witchcraft. They called for robust law enforcement measures to safeguard older persons from violations and abuse. Advocating for better access to healthcare services, including mental health support, emerged as a top priority intervention while empowering older persons through financial literacy initiatives and income-generating projects was seen as pivotal in bolstering their resilience and self-esteem. Finally, promoting social inclusion through intergenerational activities aimed at combating loneliness, ageism and preventing instances of senicide among the elderly, was also agreed upon as a key intervention in addressing challenges that older persons face.

A key outcome from this project activity was the undertaking by participants set up a platform to address older person’s issues in the sub-county; a kind of older persons’ rights watch. Through this platform, the stakeholders will keep vigilance of older persons’ rights violations, identify vulnerable older persons in need and link them to the help they need.

Ethel Foundation for the Aged has lined up a series of community level interventions to leverage on this initial workshop. These initiatives will be used for advocacy, community education, legal aid and other community outreach programs geared towards improving the quality of life for older persons.





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