Zambia’s Aging Population: A Closer Look Of the National Aging Policy

By Bernadette Deka Zulu PhD Scholar- Public Enterprise


In the last article, we looked at the importance of caring for the age in Zambia. The ‘aged’ or the elderly being in the minority population-wise, 65 years and over, makes nearly 3 percent of the entire population in Zambia today. Population distributionThe 2022 Census of population and housing shows other population distribution groups as follows:

• 0-14 years: This group constitutes 45.74% of the population, with approximately 4,005,134 males and 3,964,969 females.

• 15-24 years: About 20.03% fall within this age range, comprising 1,744,843 males and 1,746,561 females.

• 25-54 years: The largest segment, accounting for 28.96%, includes 2,539,697 males and 2,506,724 females.

• 55-64 years: A smaller group, representing 3.01%, consists of 242,993 males and 280,804 females

The National Aging Policy

This policy Aging was initially produced in 2008 but was officially approved by the Zambian Cabinet in 2013. By 2015, the policy was launched. However despite its approval and launch, the policy has yet to be fully implemented. Once taken seriously, it will serve as a guiding instrument for the government’s commitment to older persons and the allocation of public resources.

Importance of Having an Ageing Policy:

• The implementation of the policy will enhance the mainstreaming of ageing issues in national development;

• Full implementation will pave the way for legal reforms that can further protect the rights of older individuals.

• By considering the ageing population, the policy does guide on creating an environment that addresses their specific needs

• Zambia acknowledges international efforts related to older persons’ rights:

• The UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons, currently under discussion, aims to ensure equal human rights for all, regardless of age.

• Efforts by the American-Caribbean region and Africa in creating legal instruments for older people’s protection are commendable.

Looking Ahead:

• The policy can play a pivotal role in shaping Zambia’s approach to ageing.

• Collaboration among policymakers, NGOs, and stakeholders is essential for effective implementation of the policy

Challenges faced by the elderly in Zambia

While Zambia’s youthful population drives energy and innovation, it also faces the challenges of an aging demographic.

As the elderly population grows, ensuring adequate healthcare, social support, and financial security becomes crucial. Addressing these needs is essential for sustainable development.

Cultural & Ethnic Challenges Faced by the Elderly

Poverty and Living Conditions:

• Households with older individuals are often among the poorest in the country.

• Many elderly people reside in rural areas, where access to basic amenities and resources can be limited.

Social Stigma and Witchcraft Suspicions:

• Social stigma affects elderly individuals, especially in rural communities.

• They may be suspected of practicing witchcraft, leading to exclusion and discrimination.

Inadequate Shelter and Basic Amenities:

• Older persons residing in old people’s homes face challenges related to shelter, sanitation, and electricity.

• Lack of creative activities can lead to boredom and reduced quality of life.

Limited Access to Medical Facilities:

• The aged in homes often lack proper medical facilities.

Exclusion from HIV/AIDS Programs:

• Currently, there are no specific HIV/AIDS statistics and programs tailored for the elderly aged 65 years and above.

• This lack of attention can impact their health and well-being.

Lack of Family Support:

• Last week, we touched on how many elderly individuals are financially incapable to support themselves and their grandchildren who usually left for them to care for.

Looking Ahead/Conclusion

As Zambia continues its journey toward development, understanding its population dynamics—especially the aging demographic—is vital. Policymakers, NGOs, and stakeholders must collaborate to create inclusive policies that cater to all age groups. The 2022 Census data continues to  play a pivotal role in shaping Zambia’s future.

In conclusion, Zambia’s story unfolds through its people—the young dreamers and the resilient elders. Together, they weave the fabric of a nation striving for progress and prosperity.



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