Older People's Association (OPA)
Older People’s Associations (OPA’s) are multifunctional community-based organisations that are led and managed by older village volunteers. The goal of OPA’s supported by HelpAge Cambodia is for these associations to become self-sufficient in providing local community-based solutions to address the challenges and vulnerabilities of older people, ageing and their households.
OPA’s provides a platform for informal social protection for older people and their communities. Through these community-based organisations, older people and their households can improve their livelihoods and wellbeing through sustainable community development practices. OPA’s are recognized by the Royal Government of Cambodia as a proven safety tool focused on addressing social and welfare protection of older people. HAC continues to provide technical advice and support to Government Partners.
To date, HAC has supported over 301 communities with the establishment of OPA’s, with more than 2400 members; the member base has over 60% female members and over 60% of OPA leaders are over the age of 55 years old. HAC arranges informative learning workshops for OPA’s, aimed to educate and improve the local community development activities and to improve the lives of older people and their households. The programs are aimed to reduce the risk of poverty and social exclusion of disadvantaged households with older people, providing a critical link between communities and government authorities.
HAC continues to develop further solutions to address emerging needs of older people in Cambodia and to strengthen OPA’s capacity to manage risk.
Older People’s Associations (OPAs) are intergenerational and multifunctional community-based organisations that are led and managed by village volunteers as older people.
OPA provides a mechanism for informal social protection for older people and their communities. Through these community-based organisations, older people and their households can improve their livelihoods and well-being through sustainable community development practices. It is a proven safety net mechanism to address social and welfare protection needs of older people. Over 60% of OPA members are female and over 60% of OPA leaders are over the age of 55.
To date HelpAge has supported 166 communities with the establishment of OPAs. Along the expansion and replication efforts, HelpAge Cambodia continues to develop further actions to address emerging needs and to strengthen OPAs capacity to manage risks. HelpAge arranges learning exchange visits between OPAs to improve and replicate the successful local community development activities that improve the lives of older people and their households.
The OPA model is recognized by the Royal Government of Cambodia as a proven informal safety net and social protection mechanism to reduce the risk of poverty and social exclusion of poor and disadvantaged households with older people, providing a critical link between communities and government authorities. HelpAge provides technical advice and support to the government and the key central ministries which has currently established 321 OPAs across 11 capital-provinces with a target to establish 394 more of OPAs across all 24 provinces nationwide by this 2016.
The number of OPAs in Cambodia: 321 OPAs
- 140 Commune-Sangkat
- 181 Villages
Located in 11 capital-provinces
There are 5 capital-provinces that is existing of more OPAs than other:
- Phnom Penh
- Banteay Meanchey
- Kampong Thom
There are 301 OPAs that HelpAge and its partners have supported.
OPAs are Multifunctional and Intergenerational Organisations
OPA are led and managed by local volunteers who are the older people and permitted by local district, commune and village authorities to implement rural community development programmes. HelpAge equips the OPA with skills training, resources and interactive exchange visits to self-govern themselves and promote community participation from men and women, young or old and all type of vulnerabilities.
HelpAge consults with ministry, provincial, district, commune and village authorities to identify villages with a large proportion of older people facing livelihood challenges. Once identified, a series of consultations are conducted with community members from the selected villages. Community members learn about the concept of OPAs and are asked if they would like an OPA to be established in their village.
If the OPA is established, community members are invited to join, draft a statute and elect leaders. Every OPA is unique as the members decide its purposes, objectives and participation in activities.
The OPA leadership is elected by its members. Each OPA is village-based and its membership comes from the same village. It has its own statute, which states the purpose of OPA that addresses local community concerns as established by its members. No two OPA are identical. HelpAge provides extensive leadership, management and administration training to OPA leadership, sub-committees and regular members to ensure that the OPA members have ownership of the organisation.
The best teachers of OPA governance and community participation are the OPA themselves. HelpAge arranges learning exchange visits between OPA to improve and replicate the successful local community development activities that improve the lives of older people and their households.
HelpAge and the Provincial Planning and Investment Division (PPID) in Battambang provides training to OPA to actively engage with their Commune Council and write fundraising proposals to local district and commune funds for local community welfare, health, education and infrastructure projects. Older women and men are actively contributing to their local community affairs. These days, there are more than 50 OPAs across several districts successfully applied and accessed to local funding for their welfare development activities.
Older People's Association Federation (OPAF)
Clusters of five Older People’s Associations (OPAs) can cluster together to form a federation. This gives older people a greater platform to share knowledge and expand the collective action of OPAs.
Over the past 20 years, the OPAs have been a support and safety-net mechanism to improve the well- being of older people through collective activities benefiting themselves and their community.
Establishing federations brings OPAs together to voice older people’s issues and contribute to community development. Leaders are elected by members and resources are shared within the federation to form a stronger and united community response to ageing issues. HelpAge encourages gender mainstreaming in OPA and federation membership to equally reflect the voices of men and women in the community. OPA federations receive income from hand tractor rental and fundraising activities. They join together to meet with local authorities to challenge age discrimination through the Age Demands Action global campaign.
To date, HelpAge had supported to establish eight OPA Federations with over 17,000 members, which more than 60% are women. Federations are registered as official associations under the Cambodian Ministry of Interior.