For the governments of many developing African nations, providing income security for the older population is difficult. This paper uncovers the complex problem of pension deficits and difficulties in providing welfare and other forms of social assistance in Cameroon. A vast majority of older people in Cameroon remain unassisted and battle to survive, with increasingly fragmented family and community-based forms of support. As the older population increases, fundamental concerns remain: is care provided only by family members sustainable? How does gender factor into this situation, and who bears the brunt of these problems? Borrowing from social capital theory, this paper discusses how older people struggle to find new forms of social protection. It articulates the view that older people display remarkable courage, resilience and coping strategies which make them not a burden to society, but rather, key players in the development process. It proposes achievable policy options that can make a difference in the lives of Cameroon’s older citizens.
Che Charles Fonchingong, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Canterbury Christ Church University in Canterbury, England. A frontline practitioner, academic and researcher, he has previously taught at the University of Buea, Cameroon.