This document systematically reviews the main risks older people are exposed to in emergency situations. For each risk, the document also lists simple measures that can be taken within the standard programming and funding parameters of humanitarian organisations to reduce risks for older people in emergencies.


The document identifies risks in nine categories:

  1. General concerns: worsening of pre-existing marginalisation and exclusion; invisibility to humanitarian actors.
  2. Protection: not being able to leave home or IDP/refugee camps even if one wants to; being separated from family or community; being a victim of abuse; having to care for children; having housing, land and properties rights ignored; and being excluded by communal shelters.
  3. Food: not being registered for this, and having difficulties reaching the food distribution point or market; having difficulties at the food distribution point; and transporting the food home; not receiving an equal share of food within the family; and having inappropriate food.
  4. Non-food items: not having enough warm clothes /blankets; or culturally acceptable clothes; and not being included in NFI distribution lists.
  5. Shelter: not being automatically given shelter by family; having inaccessible shelter; having to sleep on cold, hard or damp surfaces; not having proper gender separation; and being grouped with unknown people.
  6. WASH: not being included in and having difficulties reaching water distribution points; having difficulties transporting water back home; having difficulties reaching and using sanitation facilities; and having difficulties disposing of waste.
  7. Nutrition: having malnutrition unchecked and untreated.
  8. Health: being more subject to ill health or injury; having difficulties accessing health services; inappropriate health services; and difficulties accessing psychological support.
  9. Recovery: being excluded from rehabilitation and livelihood projects; and not being able to earn a living


Usage: Guidance for project implementation

Audiences: Technical staff

Reference: HelpAge International (May 2012). Older people in emergencies – Identifying and reducing risks. Pp. 2-13. Available from: http://www.helpage.org/silo/files/older-people-in-emergencies–identifying-and-reducing-risks.pdf [Accessed: 21st September 2016]


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