/ 22 May 2008

SAHRC: Increase in people living in poverty

More people across all race groups in South Africa are living in relative poverty, a report released by the South African Human Rights Commission on Thursday said.

The number of white South Africans living in relative poverty has doubled, from 2% to 3,9% since 1997, the number of Africans has increased from 50,3% to 57,2%, the commission’s Human Rights Development report found.

The number of coloured South Africans living in relative poverty rose from 16,8% to 19,7% and the figure for South Africans of Indian descent rose from 6,2% to 7,5%.

Researchers said the high poverty rate was a direct consequence of the high unemployment rate which varied from 25,6% in 2006 according to the strict definition, and 39% using an expanded definition.

The amount of social assistance beneficiaries increased from 2,5-million in 1994 to over 10,5-million, researchers said.

The government’s commitment to poverty interventions have been wide ranging as it attempted to address inequalities from apartheid, with 40 poverty reduction programmes.

However, an audit by the Public Service Commission revealed that the government did not have its own integrated database on poverty reduction programmes and many projects did not have budget information or information on the amount of beneficiaries.

Departments could unknowingly duplicate projects and there could be a waste of resources.

The researchers’ recommendations included that the state review its current approach to poverty reduction programmes and develop certainty on what the poverty datum line was, as well as discuss the real nature of poverty in South Africa. – Sapa