Alleviating poverty: How much has been done?

Alleviating poverty: How much has been done?

Still far too many South Africans are living below the breadline.

Laila Majiet


The statistics are ghastly and paint a grim picture for the future of this country and its people.


Statistically speaking


Statistics South Africa's poverty trends report, released in August 2017, shows that one in two South Africans live in poverty.


That is an alarming 30 million people living in poverty in our country.


According to Stats SA, poverty is on the rise, despite the general decline in poverty between 2006 and 2011. Poverty levels in South Africa rose in 2015.


Given these figures, is government's efforts to eradicate poverty something to celebrate?

Zuma: ANC losing power will lead to poverty 


It turns out we are still better off compared to the country's poverty situation from a decade earlier.


In 2006, it was estimated that close to two-thirds of South Africans (66,6% or roughly 31,6 million people) were living below the upper-bound poverty line.


The report revealed that about half of South Africans survive on less than R992 per month - this is up from R779 in 2015.


To further explain the sad state of affairs, what this means is that those who fall below this line are unable to purchase or consume enough food to supply them with the basic energy requirement and are considered to be living in “extreme poverty”.




Thirty million South Africans are living in poverty and most of them are children.


What does this mean for the future of our country? 



So while there are less people living under the poverty line than there were in 2006, our unemployment figures reveal an even more worrying trend.


South Africa's unemployment rate rose to a 14-year high in 2017.


According to Statistics South Africa, unemployment in the first quarter of 2017 increased by 1.2 of a percentage point to 27.7% - the highest figure since September 2003.


This amounts to 9.3 million people who were unemployed but wanted to work in the first quarter of 2017.


Unemployment highest among young people - Stats SA

When releasing these statistics in June 2017, statistician general Pali Lehohla said the gap between the unemployment rate envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP) and the current rate is widening.


“The NDP states unemployment should be 14% by 2020 and we have only two and a half years to that target,” he said. “The gap to 2020 currently stands at 13.7 percentage points.”

Even more ghastly statistics were revealed at the recent Institutefor African Alternatives (IFAA) Confronting Inequality Conference.


It had been revealed that only 24% of the population are free from poverty or the threat thereof.


That's a miniscule number when looking at the larger picture.


The rich are getting richer and the poorer getting poorer.


How do we bridge the divide?


Econometrix chief economist Dr Azar Jammine says bridging the divide starts with education.


“The first thing is to start educating the poor far far better and to make them more employable. Many of these people are not educated enough and don’t have enough skill to be gainfully employed.


“The second way is a global phenomenon, for monetary policy around the world to be tightened – which is an irony because you would have thought higher interest rates would be harmful for economic activity, but it would definitely equalise the situation,” Jammine explains.


He says the country is better off now than it was in 1994.


“But what may well have worsened since 1994 is the level of inequality in the country. Before it was quite simple, it was somewhat wealthier whites who had jobs and were fairly educated and earning reasonably well and blacks who had been suppressed. They were being looked after at a very minimalistic level by the state under the apartheid regime.”


Jammine says what has happened since then is both the white and black communities have become more unequal.

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