Francis Njuakom Nchii is a Cameroonian and holds certificates in social work, community development, social gerontology, advocacy and leadership. He is founder and Executive Director of Community Development Volunteers for Technical Assistance (CDVTA), Cameroon’s leading organization in care and support of older people. In addition to having received more than five awards in Cameroon by different national media groups, in 2008 Njuakom was awarded the Sheila McKechnie 2008 International Campaigner Award at Number 10 Downing Street, London, by the then UK Prime Minister, the Rt,. Hon. Gordon Brown. Recently was presented with the Positive Ageing Image Award in the United States of America, by LeadingAge Georgia. He is a Common Wealth Association for the Ageing Ambassador in Cameroon. He is a Director on the Board of the International Federation on Ageing (IFA). During the 2016 Cameroon’s National Day celebration, the President of Cameroon conferred on Francis, the title of “Knight of the Cameroon Order of Valour” for his over 20 years of service, championing elderly rights in Cameroon and for promoting community development in the country. Francis has chaired and presented papers on ageing issues in many international conferences across Europe, Australia, United States of America and Africa. Apart from being an experienced motivational speaker, Francis served as Representative of Nouvelle Planete Swiss projects in Cameroon for 10 years. He also serves on the national ageing committee with the ministry of social affairs in Cameroon. Francis is happily married to Roseline and they have two boys and three girls.
Combating ageism, social exclusion and loneliness at the grassroots in Africa, through community-driven social care initiatives, the case of Cameroon
Francis Njuakom Nchii, Community Development Volunteers for Technical Assistance (CDVTA)
Combating ageism, social exclusion and loneliness at grassroots level in Africa is possible, through age-friendly community-driven care initiatives. Cameroon’s social care innovative service delivery uses a replicable elderly driven approach. These care concepts address self-identified needs of marginalized elders in disadvantaged communities, creating lasting changes at a structural level. Care delivery outcomes are in areas of social inclusion, improved livelihoods, volunteering, advocacy and intergenerational linkages, for shared learning. Elderly-driven social inclusive clubs promote platforms of dialogue on elderly issues, among different stakeholders, promoting age-friendly environments and communities. Networking exchanges and collaboration between elderly clubs and stakeholders are encouraged and supported, aimed at combating ageism and promoting age-inclusive communities. Isolated and lonely elders (70% women and widows) are empowered to feel more included and cared for by the community, through active club membership, regular home-visits by community volunteers, intergenerational learning and sharing with school children, and family members.
Advocacy rights-based approaches, encourage and engage elders in international ageing, elder abuse, human rights and national day celebrations, giving them a bigger voice to make informed choices, hold government accountable, influence national social policy and join national and international actors, in calling for a global UN convention on elderly rights. Through improved livelihoods and income security, low income elders (70% women and widows) gain increased well-being, economic empowerment and social protection.
Trainings enable elders to acquire knowledge and skills for improved techniques in farming, agriculture, bee- keeping, ointment/body lotion production, goat rearing, soap making, wash powder production and medicinal plants used for improved health. Welfare services enable elders to attain improved standards of living in nutrition, health, hygiene and sanitation. These replicable sustainable care concepts have helped to raise elderly living standards in remote rural disadvantaged communities in Cameroon, where no other government or NGO supports exist.
The defining aspects of these care concepts are empowering one of the most severely marginalized groups of elders (women and widows) in difficult environments. The presence of social clubs, and improvements they bring to individuals, strengthen elderly rights, combat ageism, reduces isolation and loneliness, increases elder-inclusiveness, limits elder-abuse and promotes age-friendly communities and environments. These care concepts can be replicated in other places where elders face similar situations.