Poverty levels in South Africa have increased slightly over the last decade, while Zimbabwe's poverty levels have come down, according to a new survey released on Tuesday.
The Afrobarometer poverty survey's Lived Poverty Index (LPI) for 2012 showed South Africa scoring 0.81 on a scale of zero to four. Four reflects a constant absence of all basic necessities, while zero reflects no poverty.
Ten years earlier in 2002, South Africa scored 0.71. The years in between have been somewhat worse – 0.82 in 2005, and 0.89 in 2008 on the LPI – but the slight improvement has not come close to full recovery to that level.
The survey indicated that poverty in South Africa increased over the last decade despite reported average economic growth of 3.6% between 2002 and 2012.
Between 2011 and 2013, 60% of South Africans never experienced water shortages, while 29% did so once, twice or several times. Eleven percent experienced water shortages many times or always.
Medical shortages were always experienced, or many times, by 8% of South Africans, while 31% experienced the same shortages once, twice, or several times.
Most South Africans – 60% – never experienced medical shortages, according to the survey.
Regarding cooking fuel shortages, 8% of South Africans always or many times experienced such shortages, 30% once, twice, or several times, and 62% never.
Nearly a quarter (22%) of South Africans experienced cash income shortages many times or always.
Thirty-four percent experienced the same shortage once, twice or several times while 44% of South Africans never experienced cash income shortages.
When South African respondents were asked what they thought of the current condition of the national economy, 47% said the economy was fairly or very bad, 17% said neither good or bad, while 34% said very or fairly good.
Compared to the condition of the national economy a year ago, 33% of South Africans said the economy had gotten worse or much worse, while 36 said the economy was the same.
The survey was conducted in 35 countries across Africa (though Ethiopia's data was yet to be released), with South Africa receiving the sixth lowest LPI score.
Stability sees Zimbabwe poverty decline
Zimbabwe has seen the greatest reduction in poverty among the 35 African countries surveyed as part of the latest Afrobarometer.
The poverty survey found that one result of the stability brought about following the formation of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe in 2008 was a reduction in poverty.
"Following the disputed and highly flawed 2008 election, a government of national unity was put into place," the survey stated.
"The previous opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), gained control of the Ministry of Finance.
One apparent result of this 'peace dividend' was a rapid fall in lived poverty … " The country received a LPI score of 1.36 for 2012, versus the 2.02 it received in 2008, a peak for the country.
This contrasts with Zimbabwe's 2002 score of 1.71, and score of 1.98 in 2005. – Sapa