Lack of transport and mobility impacts the elderly in TZ

A new research has found that transport and mobility issues negatively impact the lives of older people and their entire communities in Tanzania.

The study, including research carried out by HelpAge International, Durham University, the Good Samaritan Social Services Trust and Research for Policy (REPOA), was selected from the 6,975 case studies submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014 – the system used to assess the research quality of all UK universities. It was picked by UKCDS, a group of 14 UK government departments and research funders working in international development, as one of their 20 favourite impact stories.

In collaboration with HelpAge Tanzania, the Durham researchers and their local co-researchers explored how limited access to transport had negative effects on older people’s health and livelihoods. They found it severely affected economic circumstances in both households and communities, and increased the workload of resident grandchildren in their care.

The research has been cited within a case study ranked by the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences as one of the top 20 most impressive examples of UK research contributing to development.

This collaborative research has made significant contributions to HelpAge’s policy advocacy agenda shaping subsequent interventions that have been introduced to address some of the barriers that limit older people’s equal access to health care. It has also underscored the inter-twined nature of transport, mobility, health and livelihoods.

Amleset Tewodros, Country Director of HelpAge Tanzania, the co-author of a paper cited in the case study, said the research had helped policy makers to recognise the transport and mobility challenges experienced by people with low mobility and physical inability such as older people.

‘’In a uniquely organised approach, older men and women were involved as co-researchers shaping the design of the research tools and the collection of data, they’ve not just been passive respondents,’’ she said in a media communiqué last week.

The findings of this research have made a significant contribution to improving accessibility of rural transport including for people with limited mobility such as older people, children, and women.

DFID’s African Community Access Programme utilised this research when creating a Transport Services Training Manual, used in regional workshops across Sub-Saharan Africa with transport policy makers and practitioners.