About a week-and-a-half ago I got back from a work trip to Mauritius and thought I'd send along an account and some photos.
I was there as part of a project Foreign Policy is doing, commissioned by AARP, about aging populations around the world. I'm in charge of Mauritius and New Zealand and I got to travel to Mauritius only because the resources available online aren't as great for Mauritius as they are for New Zealand, so doing the report justice meant an in-person visit. (New Zealand I'm researching entirely from D.C.)
I had about fifteen meetings scheduled, and ended up meeting with even more people, so often there wasn't time for lunch each day let alone a lot of sightseeing; but having to crisscross the island for meetings meant I got to see quite a lot nonetheless, and largely non-touristy bits.
The point of our project is to identify innovative practices in small economies around the world with regard to older people and to assess how those countries are preparing for their aging populations (i.e. a greater portion of the population being 65 or older). Having an aging program is basically a good problem to have, but it can put a strain on social safety nets.
Mauritius is our representative country for Africa, in part because it has an aging population whereas much of continental Africa still has high birth rates and won't see population aging for some time, and in part because of the government's focus on older people and its large spending on social programs to benefit them.
For my part, that meant meeting with various government and NGO leaders and academics to talk about innovative initiatives directed at older people, and also to give two presentations about last year's report, which focused on the subject of aging population efforts in larger economies.