Social protection for elderly people in the context of rapidly ageing population in Rwanda

Researcher:

Albert Irambeshya

Formal social protection for elderly people in Rwanda is limited to those who worked in the formal sector, while the elderly people who worked in the informal sector do not receive such protection. In the absence of formal social protection services to the growing number of elderly people in the informal sector, these elderly people rely solely on intergenerational support that is given by their families. Intergenerational support is an invaluable source of care that forms an important part of the social fabric. However, less attention has been paid to the intergenerational support to elderly people, and so, the factors and dynamics that underpin the intergenerational support to elderly people in Rwanda remain underexplored, and it has not yet attracted anthropological scholarly attention.

The aim of this research project is to contribute to the current anthropological debate on day-to-day intergenerational support in the wave of social changes. In Rwanda, social changes such as rural-urban migration of younger generations, changes in housing patterns and land scarcity as well as the 1994 genocide greatly influence the current intergenerational support to elderly people in rural areas. This research will explore factors underpinning intergenerational support to elderly people in relation to the care expectations of elderly people in rural areas of Rwanda. The issue of intergenerational support for the elderly becomes ever more important in the wake of social changes since such social changes leave a gap which renders the elderly in rural areas without daily care. This research will analyze how care is provided to elderly people and the motivation to provide care in the context of social changes. It will also explore what happens to these elderly individual when neither their families nor the government provides care for them.