Tearfund – Research into ageing in Rwanda

Tearfund are delighted to have received an initial grant of £10,000 from The Elise Pilkington Trust towards our project researching the impact of the 1994 genocide and rural migration on traditional support network’s for the elderly in Rwanda, that will inform and develop the response of the local church in meeting their needs.  The project will run for 3 years; the initial phase of the project being focused on research, the later phase will focus on running a pilot project.

Subsistence agriculture remains the main source of livelihoods for many in sub Saharan Africa.  In a culture with no tradition of institutional elderly care, the aged have depended on their wider family and community for support. Changing social norms however are placing this under threat as people move away from their rural communities and look for work in cities.

In Rwanda this trend is exacerbated by the effects of the 1994 genocide which removed a significant proportion of those who would now be caring for their elderly parents and family members.

The aim of this project is therefore to research the combined effects of the genocide and of urbanisation with its consequent impact on rural communities with a view to exploring how the local church can both support and advocate for the needs of the elderly in Rwanda.

Tearfund’s experience working in Rwanda since the early 1990s has found that engaging with the local church as a permanent institution ensures mechanisms built around the church and the communities it serves are generally sustainable.  In the absence of institutional social systems and the breakdown of traditional support systems social security is provided in the main by the church.  It is therefore vital that the church is equipped to develop their response to supporting the elderly poor in Rwanda.

While focused on Rwanda the insights are likely to be applicable across sub Saharan Africa particularly in those countries that have suffered armed conflict.

Thanks to the support of The Elise Pilkington Trust, Tearfund will be able to work alongside the local church in developing its role in responding to the challenges of aging in poor post conflict communities.

About Tearfund

Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency and a member of the Disasters’ Emergency Committee. Founded in 1968, Tearfund has been working around the world for 50 years responding to disasters and helping lift communities out of poverty. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit www.tearfund.org.