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The participation of senior citizen in community development activities in uThukela District, KwaZulu-Natal.

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Senior citizens are often perceived by society as unproductive, alienated and ineffectual individuals. However, if opportunities are made for them, senior citizens can bring a positive change to their respective communities. This study examines what could be done to ensure the participation of senior citizens in community development activities, by exploring the roles they may play, factors in favour and against their participation and strategies for inviting and sustaining their participation in community development activities. A qualitative design and purposive sampling are used. The sample of 14 information-rich informants from the following categories: A councillor, a member of non-governmental organisation, senior citizens and ordinary community members. Interviewing is used as the primary method for data collection. The findings reveal that senior citizens should participate in community development activities, since they have availability of time, wide knowledge base and transferable skills. Furthermore, they can be more committed and they are trusted by the community. It reveals that senior citizen participation is deterred by unawareness, lack of specific supportive policy, age discrimination and physical barriers. Thirty roles are identified for senior citizen in community development activities. Strategies for inviting them to participate are: the use of policy, change of attitude, creating favourable conditions, use of media, avoiding discrimination and recognise senior citizens in their respective communities. Strategies for sustaining their participation emerged as follows: involve them in various committees, communities invite senior citizens and encouraging their participation and illuminating deterring factors. The study’s main recommendations is for increase efforts in municipalities, communities, community development organisations, government and families to involve senior citizens in effective and instrumental participation in community development activities.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.