Zanzibar launched a universal pension on 15th April 2016 – the first of its kind in east Africa. Zanzibar's Minister of Finance, the Honourable Omar Yussuf Mzee, said that "every eligible older citizen, regardless of his or her current income" will be paid the pension.
According to HelpAge International, the number of older people in Zanzibar has risen by more than 11,000 since 2005, though the majority have never been in the formal labour market and do not receive a pension from the Zanzibar Social Security Fund. The universal pension is key to protection from poverty for elder persons and the wider communities.
The government-funded universal pension covers anyone over the age of 70. They will receive a monthly non-contributory pension of Tsh 20,000 (US$9). An amount of 1.65 billion Tsh (US$754,000) has been made available for the pension payments.
In order to measure the impact of the pension for older people and their families in Zanzibar, HelpAge is working with the Economic and Social Research Foundation of Tanzania on baseline survey.
Here at Development Pathways, we look forward to seeing how this impacts the recipients and Zanzibar in the long term.
Watch this space.