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 156 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
There are 156 OPAs that HelpAge and its partners has 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 distr