World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO in Harare, Zimbabwe

Consultancy Older Persons Policy Development in Zimbabwe

( 2209612 )

Contractual Arrangement : External consultant

Contract Duration (Years, Months, Days) : 4 MONTHS

Job Posting: Oct 26, 2022, 9:43:33 AM

Terms of Reference for Older Persons Policy Development in Zimbabwe


Older Persons Policy


To develop an Older Persons Policy in line with the dictates of the Older Persons Act (Chapter 17:11) of 2012 as well as the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No. 20 of 2013) Sections 21 and 82.

Proposed Grade





4 Months

Start Date

01 November 2022

End Date

  • Introduction

    • The Zimbabwe Older Persons Board and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare seek to engage a consultant to develop an Older Persons Policy in line with the dictates of the Older Persons Act (Chapter 17:11) of 2012 as well as the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment No. 20 of 2013) Sections 21 and 82. While aging is regarded as a blessing and must be celebrated, this is not the case in many African countries, as it is mostly associated with poverty, ill health, neglect, abandonment and abuse [1]. The intended policy will pursue an enabling environment for the wellbeing of older persons in social, economic, cultural, and legal domains.
  • Background and Justification

    • Older persons are estimated to constitute 6% of Zimbabwe’s population according to the 2012 census. The country currently has no social policy that informs and guides plans and actions for the wellbeing of older persons. The Older Persons Act (Chapter 17:11) of 2012, a statute governing the affairs of the concerned group has no policy back-up. Resultantly, there is no sound social protection system specific for older persons.
    • Older persons are supported through other social protection programmes like the Harmonised Social Cash Transfer (HSCT) programme, and the Food Deficit Mitigation Programme, Assisted Medical Treatment Orders (AMTO) which are administered by Department of Social Development.
    • The provision, by both state and non-state actors is disjointed and less responsive to their peculiar needs. Losing employment related income due to old age causes social and economic vulnerability. Rural-based older persons are more vulnerable owing to lack of enterprising opportunities. The thrust of this policy development is timely as the Department of Social Development is adopting a developmental approach to social welfare.
    • The policy intends to pursue a family strengthening approach which is a shift from remedial to developmental welfare, the Department of Social Development intends to abandon curative interventions for preventative and sustainable approaches. This will be achieved through implementation of family strengthening programmes in poor families with older persons.
  • Key Policy Intentions

Economic Strengthening for households with elderly people

    • Economic strengthening through appropriate income-raising projects necessary for the care and support of older family members. Programmes that yield a positive rate of return promote self-reliance and are preferable to the existing income support programmes which maintain poor families at basic consumption levels.

Training programmes for families with elderly people

    • Training programmes in care of older persons for families with such members to promote home-based care solutions. Promotion of family and community-based care. The family strengthening approach enables home and community-based care of older persons which is preferable to the culturally-inappropriate institutionalization.

Family strengthening programmes

    • Social development in the African context supports interventions that match with principles of Ubuntu and social solidarity which undergirded society from time immemorial. Observance of culture in the development process is assumed to preserve the social wellbeing of a society as a whole. Family strengthening programmes will foster care and support of older persons in their natural settings for sustainability.

Promote healthy ageing over the life course

    • The policy will seek to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure the issues of accessibility and affordability of good-quality essential health services for the elderly are taken care of. This is envisaged to take a life cycle approach and will include prevention, promotion, curative, rehabilitative, palliative and end-of-life care for the older persons. This is in line with the Framework for Implementing the Priority Actions of the Global Plan of Action of the Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021–2030 in The African Region, agreed upon by the WHO Regional Committee for Africa.

Universal old age benefits

    • The proposed social policy will see provision of universal old age benefits in the form of a non-contributory pension scheme. The scheme is currently at its early stages with a feasibility study having been conducted in partnership with ILO Harare Office, and HelpAge Zimbabwe and National Age Network of Zimbabwe and plans for its approval and adoption are underway.

Universal Pensions

    • Universal pensions for older persons are the solution to the exclusionary nature of NSSA’s Pensions and other Benefits Scheme’s (POBS) retirement benefit. POBS exclude workers in the informal economy who are prone to fall into poverty in old age, a high risk given the dominance of informal workers who account for over 90% of the working age population in Zimbabwe. The non-contributory pension scheme will be harmonized with monetary welfare programmes currently provided to older persons by the Department of Social Development. The harmonization is necessitated by the similarity of the intended non-contributory old age pension with Public Assistance.
    • The principle of universalism speaks to AU Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa (2016) whose Article 7(2) states that States Parties shall “ensure that universal social protection mechanisms exist to provide income security for those older persons who did not have the opportunity to contribute to any social security provisions”.
    • It also echoes with ILO’s quest for extension of social security coverage through the Social Protection Floors (SPFs) Recommendation 202 of 2012. The floor addresses problems of exclusion, vulnerability, and poverty. The horizontal dimension of the SPF comprises of four guarantees including basic income security for older persons. Universalism also eliminates the problem of stigma which partly account for non-take-up of retirement benefits; notwithstanding the drawback of negative redistribution when resources are transferred to wealthy older persons.

Adequacy of benefits

    • The policy will see to the adequacy of benefits under the envisioned old age pension scheme. Presently, the Department of Social Development provides cash and in-kind benefits to older persons that fail to improve their social conditions due to the current harsh economic conditions. Adequacy is key in meeting the extra needs and peculiar problems that come with aging, such as disease burden and declining mobility. Access to health should cover not only medical examinations but medications. The Department has confidence in a robust social protection system for older persons as is the case in other African countries like Mauritius and South Africa. Adequacy is one of the principles underpinning extension of social security coverage to excluded groups to afford them dignified lives above the poverty line.

Ratification of the AU Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa

    • Zimbabwe is a member State in the African Union but has not ratified the AU Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa and the process is still underway. The planned policy framework for older persons will see to the ratification of this Protocol, which spells out some of the policy contents stipulated above. It lays down protection of the rights of older persons in Article 3 (elimination of discrimination against older persons), Article 8 (protection from harmful cultural practices such as witchcraft accusations) and Article 9 (protection of older women from physical and sexual violence).

Steps towards alignment of old age in all the countries documentation

    • These expressions are made in line with Article 18(4) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which provides for special protection measures for older persons and people with disabilities in keeping with their physical and moral needs. The planned policy furthermore seeks to peg old age at 60 years and above in accordance with the Protocol.

Training of health specialists

    • Training of health specialists is critical in the areas of geriatricians and gerontologists to provide specialist health services to older persons. The believed absence of geriatricians in Zimbabwe is a source of worry in as far as the health of older persons is concerned. The envisioned policy includes on its agenda ensuring availability of geriatricians, psychologists and social workers that attend to the multi-faceted aspects of aging. This will go hand in glove with strengthening appropriate service delivery for the elderly within the existing national health systems to provide specialized health care that is affordable.
  • Aims of the consultancy

    • To steer formulation of a social policy that improves the welfare landscape of older persons in Zimbabwe
  • Objectives
  • To lead the policy formulation process
  • To operationalise the Zimbabwe Older Persons’ Act
  • To conduct policy consultations with relevant public agencies, civil society, the private sector, academia, general Zimbabwean population and religious organizations
  • Duties and Responsibilities

Desk Review and development of the consultancy plan: 1) Conduct an assessment and desk review of existing relevant documents;

2) Conduct preliminary consultations with, Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Older Persons Board and selected Civil Society Organisations working for and with older persons;

3) Develop an Older Persons Policy and an Implementation plan with clear goals and targets. The plan should further state roles and responsibilities and envisage a monitoring and reporting framework and an indicative budget;

4) Develop a concept note to facilitate a validation workshop of the Older Persons’ Policy;

5) Facilitate a validation workshop;

6) Incorporate recommendations from participants into the policy and action plan;

7) Submit the Older Persons policy for approval by Zimbabwe Older Persons Board, Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare and other key Government offices.

  • Key Deliverables
  • Desk review report
  • Consultancy plan
  • Draft policy
  • Validation workshop report
  • Final Older Persons Policy
  • Required educational and Experience

The Consultant should fulfil the following requirements: Required Education : Master’s degree in Development Studies, Social Work, Law, Social Sciences or other related fields.

Desirable Education : PHD in related field

Functional Skills and Knowledge

  • Proven exposure/experience in policy development including the design/development/implementation of national policies.
  • Proven experience in leading and facilitating workshops.
  • Ability to effectively utilize computer software (i.e., MS Excel, word etc.)
  • Excellent facilitation and training skills

Required Experience

At least 10 years of proven experience in social protection and ageing issues;

Desired Experience

Experience in working with United Nations, bilateral or other multilateral organizations in Zimbabwe will be an advantage.

Required Language:

  • Expert knowledge of both written and spoken English

Desirable Language:

  • Knowledge of Ndebele or Shona will be an added advantage

Skills and Competencies:


  • Communicating in a credible and effective way
  • Fostering Integration and teamwork
  • Building and promoting partnership across the organization and beyond
  • Producing results
  • Ensuring the effective use of resources

Place of Assignment

Harare, Zimbabwe