Ageing Portraits

10 images Created 4 Jan 2016

This portrait series shines a spotlight on the elderly population in Nepal adversely affected by climate change. 2.3 billion people worldwide lack access to reliable electricity. In Nepal over 80% of the population live in rural mountainous regions with little to no access to electricity and roughly 6.5% of the population are senior citizens (people who are 60 years and above). The devastating earthquakes earlier in the year (April 25th and May 12th) left the citizens of Nepal with a broken country, 9,000 people killed, tens of thousands of people injured and over 2.5 million homeless.

Citizen's Awareness Centers have been implemented throughout rural Nepal for the elderly and communities to come together once a week to discuss ways to facilitate change to better the livelihoods of its members. Programs setup by these centers include construction of storage areas, temporary learning centers (TLCs) in schools and shelters in women friendly spaces. Solar energy was installed in four village development centers (VDCs) and adopted about five years ago in the Babare community. Members are encouraged to discuss topics on renewable energy, climate action and earthquake relief efforts in Nepal.

The initial government earthquake relief aid of Rs 2,000 was inadequate. Two to three months after the earthquake, the government distributed Rs. 15,000 to earthquake victims who had received an ID for relief support. Old age allowance from the government has also been a longstanding problem. The elderly in Nepal are receiving Rs 1,000 per month, which is inadequate. The elderly population must be considered in national planning and implementation of climate change strategies to create a framework that is sustainable for all people.

The increase in elderly population in Nepal will have a profound impact on individuals, families and communities. In rural and urban Nepal, the elderly population is experiencing reduced mobility, impaired sight and hearing, chronic health conditions such as diabetes, respiratory illness and dementia, as well as greater vulnerability to heat and cold. These affect an older person's ability to adapt and cope during natural disasters and climate changes. Oftentimes, urban elderly are abandoned by family members and left alone in old age homes in despair, and rural elderly are left vulnerable to the geographical terrain in which they live. The elderly in rural areas work in agriculture in tough conditions and oftentimes require on average a seven to eight hour walk to reach a health post to treat injuries, sickness and mental health conditions.

Currently, people in rural Nepal do not have enough food and need permanent shelters to survive the upcoming winter months. It's tough for families with children to live in such meagre conditions. People are in need of support from the government for relief activities to be carried out and counseling required to accept the psychological effects of the aftershocks caused by the earthquakes.
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