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Gender dynamics of elderly welfare and semi-formal protection in Cameroon (NW and SW provinces)

Fonchingong, Che Charles (2007) Gender dynamics of elderly welfare and semi-formal protection in Cameroon (NW and SW provinces). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94350) (KAR id:94350)


Amidst the complexity of social security provision for the elderly in Cameroon, this gender-focused research engages with individual and collective agency by the elderly in fashioning support schemes in rural and urban areas. This challenges predominant development thinking that perceive the elderly as a burden and drain on the state, household and community. Drawing on social capital theory and economics of resource mobilization in poverty reduction, the role of informal institutions in elderly welfare support is assessed.

Based on in-depth interviews, participant observation and focus group discussion in selected study sites in Cameroon, a needs assessment portfolio in evaluating daily needs (care, food, clothing, medication, firewood, water, assistance with farm work, remittances) was employed. Interviewees were also controlled for varying access to pensions, housing, residential patterns, forms of care available, livelihood strategies, household sizes, traditional support schemes, micro-insurance schemes, and benefits of social networking.

The results are presented qualitatively showing significant demographic, socioeconomic variables and analysed through a typology of recurrent themes. A mixed picture of the elderly as key pillars in securing livelihoods, engineering community development initiatives, while others are in hardship requiring support is evident. The traditional forms of support are fragmenting and the elderly are walking the tight rope through a gamut of informal sector activities. Children, grand children and hired helpers are also playing a greater role in assisting the elderly. Drawing from accounts and scenarios, old men and women are affected unevenly due to differing coping mechanisms, adjustment patterns and inequalities in levels of support. Those in rural areas seem to be coping better than their counterparts in urban areas as a result of greater access to land, other accrued assets and still strong community relations. What stands out is the hard fact that njangis, mutual societies, faith-based organizations and village development associations, referred to in the research as semi-formal (at the interface of formal and informal care), are struggling to fill the gaps. These networks can barely provide psychological support, particularly funeral arrangements. Reversing the decline in elderly welfare hinges on partnerships mediated through the voluntary sector.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94350
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 09:39 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2023 09:39 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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