Poverty in South Africa essay

Between 14 and 75 % of South Africa engulfs poverty that depends on the poverty line used. The common finding in the various researches presents that the majority of the people living in the rural areas are poor, and the majority of the poor people live in the rural areas. Substantially, almost 70 % of the people that reside in the rural areas live in poverty in comparison to 30% percent of the people that reside in the urban areas. Despite the fact that less than 50% of the population reside in the rural areas, 70 % of all the poor people live in the rural regions (May, 2000).

Arguably, poverty is unevenly distributed among the South Africa's nine provinces. For instance, the 2003 Human Development Report found that, with the exception of Western Cape as well as Gauteng, over quarter of the population in all the provinces lives in poverty. As such, the highest poverty levels are in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo Province. The incidence of poverty in these two regions estimates to 68% and 60% respectively. Consequently, Gauteng as well as the Western Cape have population proportion below the line of poverty that is low thus poverty rates estimate to 20% and 28% respectively. As such, out of the 21.9 million poor in South Africa, 59% live in the three provinces that are Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal as well as Limpopo (Human Development Report, 2003)

Who are the Poor in South Africa?

Arguably, post-apartheid South Africa continues to present correlation between poverty and the following factors: race, age, gender, larger household size, inadequate access to basic services as well as poor education. Undoubtedly, poverty in South Africa has a robust racial dimension. Amy argues that while it is not limited to a single racial group, it nevertheless concentrates mainly among the Blacks. Human Development report presented that in 2002, the percentage of poor Blacks, colored, Asians as well as whites was 56%, 36.1%, 14.7 %, and 6.9 respectively.

Evidently, due the reliance on adults for the provision of the basic human needs, poverty centers more on the youth and adolescents. For instance, in Whiteford and Van Seventer, approximately 67% of children in the age groups 0-5 years and 6-15 year were living in households that earned less than the minimum living level (Whiteford, 1999). Consequently, Woorlard analysis based on the 1999 October Household Survey concluded that 10 million children are poor (Woolard, 2002).

Tentatively, poverty in South Africa has a strong gender dimension. As such, the poverty rates among the females tend to be higher in comparison to their male counterparts; therefore, the female are poorer. The Human Development Report of 2003 showed that about 50.9% of poor population were females. Arguably, a household with a resident male head is 28% probable to be poor, while a household with de jure female leader has a 48% probability of becoming poor. On the other hand, a household with a de facto woman head has a 53 % chance of facing poverty.

Additionally, there exists a relation between education levels and the standard of living in South Africa. Woolard asserts that 58% of the adults that lack education experience were poor; 53% of adults having less than 7 years of education experience were poor; 15% of adults that finished secondary school are poor, and only 5% of adults with tertiary education are poor (Woolard, 2002).

Poverty and unemployment are closely linked. As such, the unemployment rate among those from poor households is 52 % as compared to the overall national rate of 29 %. Additionally, the labor force participation is lower in poor that in average households. Arguably, the percentage of working age people from the households below the poverty line who are working is significantly lower than average. Therefore, only 24% of poor adults are employed in comparison with 49% from non-poor households (Price, 1998)

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Global Intervention

In 1999, Gro Brundtland, Director of the WHO, presented the recognition of poverty as a serious risk factor of death, disease as well as disability. Illness and disability among the poor result in a vicious circle of marginalization thus remaining in poverty. Nonetheless, improved health status may assist in the prevention of poverty as well as offering a way out of poverty (Braveman, 2001). As such, better health translates into massive and more equitable distribution of wealth by building physical as well as social capital and increasing the efficiency (Brundtland, 1999).

Thus, WHO focused on the health of the poor as the development issues since the recognition to the attention of the member's state at the 21st World Health Assembly. As such, better health enables eradication of poverty in the poverty stricken areas; in Africa, it would be fundamental in eradicating poverty. As such, information regarding the poor as well as the factors influencing their health in alleviating South Africa and other third world countries from poverty is very important. As such, the various initiations in these areas took place in close collaborations with other organizations that include the World Bank as well as other development agencies. Consequently, this led to the innovative strategies in measuring the aspect of health and health care. This comprised including the most cost-effective approaches in the promotion of health taking into account the changing patterns of diseases in poorer countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.

This strategy was proficient in the eradication of poverty, through not fully. As such, there has been the establishment of the estates where individuals without homes can find shelter and means of living for their families. Educationally, there is an increased number of the adults undertaking studies as well as completion of the school. Through government subsidies fees for study, many adults started perusing education.


To effectively eradicate poverty, a potential eradication strategy should encompass the following three dimensions: creation of economic opportunities for the poor, good governance that is sound macroeconomic management that engenders macroeconomic stability, and social program targeted at the poor

Creations of Economic Opportunities for the Poor

It is advisable that growth-linked policies should accompany measurements that enable the poor to share the macroeconomic growth. Therefore, it calls for comprehensive policies aimed at augmenting the poor people's assets as well as providing access to markets for the poor.

Good Governance

The lesson in this regard centers on the policies that foster a macroeconomic environment that is conducive for attaining a rapid, pro poor and sustained growth.

Targeted Social Programs

In order to compensate for the short falls of the two instruments, (good governance and economic opportunity creation) the lesson is that it is essential to advise anti-poverty programs that offer care center in the poor areas. For the purpose of determining their effectiveness, there should be a time frame.

Therefore, in an attempt to identify what the government is doing in dealing with the dilemma of poverty in South Africa, the general focus should center on various poverty reduction strategies implemented by the government ever since the termination of apartheid. Arguably, the South African government attempted various strategies in the eradication of poverty. They include measures that foster pro-poor economic growth, job creation measures, and infrastructure programs earmarked to address household consumption basic needs, contributory as well as non-contributory social security measures in addition to asset building.

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