The Grandmother Project is a non-profit organisation set up to develop strategies which explicitly and actively involve grandmothers as active resource persons for their communities. In most non-western countries, older women play an important part in their communities and in bringing up families. Many development programmes focus on women of childbearing age regardless of the fact that young mothers will listen to their own mothers and their mothers-in-law.
The role of the elderly, and in particular grandmothers, has been changed in sub-Saharan Africa by the prevalence of AIDS. It is estimated that 40-60 percent of the estimated 13 million AIDS orphans live with their grandmothers who often struggle with little or no support. The 'Grandmothers to Grandmothers' campaign was launched to "twin" groups of grandparents in Canada and South Africa, to the benefit of both groups.
In Swaziland, where the average life expectancy has fallen to 31, the over 49s are taking on an increasingly vital role because they are largely free of HIV. In spite of this vital role, they often slip through the safety net of humanitarian organisations.