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Ageing in Africa, Asia and Latin America

Two-thirds of global population aged over 60 now live in Africa, Asia and Latin America yet they remain under researched.  While most issues facing people as they age are broadly similar across the world the contexts in which they play out can differ significantly, radically changing the opportunities and challenges older people face.
This SIG will focus on low and middle income countries in order to strengthen gerontology’s ability to develop and promote rigorous, comparative and cross-cultural research that comprehends the impact of rapidly changing economies, different cultural contexts, policy making and policy implementation on later life.

Aims & Objectives:

The SIG aims to facilitate the building of a stronger empirical base and the development of new theories on ageing that are attuned to the specific policy, economic, demographic and cultural contexts of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The SIG will:

  • Provide a space and intellectual community to foreground the political, social, economic, demographic, policy, cultural and historical contexts that impact on ageing in Asia, Africa and Latin America
  • Draw together academics, research students and NGO personnel
  • Hold meetings primarily in central London, hosted by Age International and HelpAgeInternational, the key NGO organisations working on ageing in low and middle income settings.
  • Organise meetings around themed sessions
  • Hold an annual SIG panel at the BSG conference
  • Promote doctoral students and early career researchers in this area of gerontology


Steering committee members:

  • Penny Vera-Sanso, Chair, Birkbeck, (@pverasanso)
  • Elisabeth Schroeder-Butterfill, Vice Chair, Southhampton
  • Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, UEA (@peterls1605)
  • Aravinda Guntupalli, Aberdeen (@aravinda_dr)
  • Ken Bluestone, Age International (@AgeBluestone)
  • Mark Gorman, HelpAge International (@HelpAge)

Joining the SIG:

Membership of the Ageing in Africa Asia and Latin America SIG is open to all.

If you would like to be part of this SIG please contact the SIG members


BSG 50th Annual Conference: Fringe SIG Symposium

Crisis, Change, Innovation – the Impacts of COVID-19

10.30am to 11.30am (BST), 7 July 2021

Free registration - please reserve tickets here. Access information will be shared with those registered in advance of the sessions. 

Please contact with any queries.

“Further distance and silence among kin”: Social impact of COVID-19 on older people in rural Southeastern Nigeria

Prince Chiagozie Ekoh, Elizabeth Onyedikach George, Chigozie Donatus Ezulike, Patricia U. Agbawodikeizu and Uzoma I. Okoye, University of Nigeria.

Given the new and unprecedented challenges faced by older people during the COVID-19 pandemic globally, this study explored the social impact of COVID-19 on older people in rural Nigeria. Data was collected from 20 older persons using in-depth interviews and analyzed thematically. Findings revealed that the pandemic has limited older people’s social support and social contact with loved ones, leading to increased poverty and loneliness given rural older peoples’ dependence on intergenerational support. The study recommends creative ways to safely maintain connectedness with older people, and expansion of the Nigerian pension policy to ensure income security for all older people as the pandemic has exposed the unsustainability of dependence on social networks.

Targeting Older Persons at Times of Crisis in Lesotho: Social Protection or Social Conflict?

Thandie Hlabana and Josphine Hapazari, National University of Lesotho 

COVID-19 created new vulnerabilities in the world by exacerbating susceptibility to poverty and inequality among various social groups. Older persons, in particular, were most vulnerable to the epidemic globally. Social protection in Lesotho has often prioritised older persons through pension grants. Much of the research has outlined how older people, particularly women, head multigenerational households and use their pension grants and unpaid labour to care for adult children and grandchildren, especially at a time of high levels of unemployment, poverty and HIV/AIDS. In response to COVID-19 pandemic, the government continued to target older persons through vertical and horizontal expansion of the pension grant. However, in this paper, we use qualitative data to argue that support to older persons illuminates their vulnerability to other social problems as these efforts tend to widen the gap between the elderly and unemployed youth, young adults and the other vulnerable groups in society. As a result, this creates tensions between older persons and their families as well as other community members as evidenced by increasing crimes (theft, assaults, rape and murder) reported against older persons in the country. Thus, targeting older persons alone in high poverty contexts can be a burden and social curse for the elderly.

The impact of COVID-19 on older people in India and the policy response

Dr Aravinda Meera Guntupalli, Senior Lecturer in Global Health, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

By the last week of May 2021, India recorded approximately 315,000 COVID-19 deaths and 27 million COVID positive cases. Given that the second wave touched every nook and corner of India, the paper asks the following questions: What is the impact of the first and second COVID-19 waves on older people in India? Do the central and state COVID policies consider the ageing population and older people? The paper relies on mortality, morbidity, and vaccine allocation data by age using published data from central and state government portals, crowd-sourced data, academic articles, and media reports. The analysis of COVID-19 individual-level data highlighted that the majority of the age and sex information is missing. Besides, several media reports and research articles highlighted underreporting of deaths which could be disproportionately high among older people. Triangulation of various datasets suggests that older people experience and report a higher level of chronic conditions which increase the risk of COVID mortality. The government’s analysis of COVID first wave data also suggested that older people with chronic conditions experienced the highest mortality. However, the majority of state and central policies in India ignored older people and did not sufficiently react to the COVID threats faced by older Indians who mostly live in rural areas where the test and health care capacity is weaker.

Social empowerment and community participation as essential threads in tackling crisis faced by older people during a pandemic: Evidence from Kerala.

Dr Sherin Susan Paul Associate Professor, Community Medicine Consultant, Palliative Medicine Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre Thiruvalla, Kerala, India, 689101 2. Dr Rajalakshmy Aiyappan Community Medicine Specialist, Kerala Health Service Department Family Health Centre, Kumaranputhoor, Palakkad, Kerala, India

Social empowerment enables societies to work individually and collectively to change relationships and discourses that exclude the poor. Community participation, a concept which evolved during the 1978 Alma Ata declaration, gained prominence with the United Nations’ initiation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Community Kitchen initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic is one such example that combines these two concepts (empowerment and participation) with a vision of hunger-free Kerala during countrywide lockdown and movement restrictions. A programme under the aegis of the Government of Kerala, the Community Kitchen initiative was implemented by Local Self-Government Institutions (LSGIs) mainly in participation with women self-help groups (Kudumbsree units). One of the main beneficiaries of this programme was older people, especially those who were staying alone and ill, while others include migrant workers, differentially abled and those who were home quarantined with COVID. With the help of ward members (locally elected members of a LSGIs) and grass root voluntary health care workers, beneficiaries were identified and provided with cooked meals through these kitchens, mostly free of cost. Sustained purely on voluntary contributions, either as money or paid in-kind, this initiative played a vital role in keeping people in Kerala free from hunger during the pandemic. This paper presents preliminary findings from a pilot qualitative in-depth interviews conducted among organisers and beneficiaries of this programme. The main objective was to identify those factors that enabled the programme’s successful implementation and to explore the feasibility of its replication in other low-income settings during an emergency such as a pandemic. It argues that empowered local communities, building social capital, decentralised governance and trained grass root workers are the key components to be considered while addressing a crisis situation.